February 9

Anderson gives US Olympic sweep in slopestyle

Jamie Anderson’s flawless final run follows Sage Kotsenburg’s gold in Sochi’s opening event.

By Eddie Pells
The Associated Press

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – There was a lot of ugliness out on that supersized Olympic slopestyle course Sunday – crashes, splashes, face plants, even a cracked helmet.

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Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates on the way to the flower ceremony after winning the women’s snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Sunday in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

The Associated Press

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Jamie Anderson of the United States celebrates after winning the women’s snowboard slopestyle final on Sunday

The Associated Press

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As she so often does, Jamie Anderson made things look beautiful again.

The world’s most consistent rider came through big under a huge amount of pressure – “I was freaking out,” she said – riding clean on the rails and stomping down three high-flying jumps on her second, and make-or-break, trip down the mountain. She scored a 95.25 on that run to make America 2 for 2 in slopestyle’s colorful and treacherous debut on the Olympic stage.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” said the gold medalist, who earlier this winter had conceded she was heading to Russia with some reservations about what the Olympics really stand for. “This is The Event.”

Enni Rukajarvi of Finland won silver and Jenny Jones took bronze to give Britain its first Olympic medal on the snow.

A heady piece of history for Jones, the 33-year-old, one-time ski resort housekeeper from Bristol, who was unapologetic in revealing she prepared for the big day by watching “Downton Abbey” back at her place in the athletes village.

Jones calls Anderson a “hippie,” and it’s true, the 23-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., likes yoga and meditation – and granola every now and then.

“I think it’s fair to say Jamie marches to the beat of her own drummer,” American Coach Mike Jankowski said. “She likes to do things her way out here.”

Much as she wanted to relax while getting ready for her final run, she said it was, indeed, a little disconcerting standing at the top of the mountain, watching rider after rider take a fall. Of the 24 runs in finals, no fewer than 17 of them included a hand drag, a fall or worse – and that wasn’t counting Austrian Anna Gasser’s failed climb back up the first embankment after she was given the `go’ sign a second too soon.

Isabel Derungs of Switzerland fell off a rail and face planted into the snow.

Silje Norendal, the Norwegian who handed Anderson one of her few losses two weeks ago at the Winter X Games, fell off the first rail, bobbled on the second, then washed out completely on her second jump.

Worst of all, Sarka Pancochova of the Czech Republic lost it on the first jump of her second run, the back of her head slamming against the snow. Her body skittered down the hill, flipping side to side, with her legs flopping like a rag doll. Somehow, she got up and rode down the hill under her own power. When she got there, she showed off a pencil-wide crack that ran the length of her helmet.

“Well, it seems broken, but that’s what they are for, right?” Pancochova said.

Against that backdrop, and overcast skies, Anderson, who lost her balance and nearly fell on the final jump of her opening run, reached the starting gate for the second.

“I was just visualizing, like, seeing myself already landing and coming down here,” she said. “Just trying to believe.”

She made a mini-Usain Bolt pose, as if getting ready to arch an arrow, pounded on her snow pants, then took off.

On a course thought by some to be too tough for women, where even Anderson fell and hurt her back during training, she was almost flawless.

She executed her half-rotating jumps on and off the rails – the most technical part of these runs – without problem, then set up for the show: Cab 720 jump with a grab, switchback 540 with a grab, frontside 720. That’s three jumps with a total of 5 rotations and two fancy grabs of the snowboard. The landings: All perfect. Everyone knew it, including Anderson, who spread-eagled her arms as she crossed the finish line. Safe.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Jamie Anderson of the United States, center, celebrates with silver medalist Enni Rukajarvi of Finland, left, and bronze medalist Jenny Jones of Britain, after Anderson won the women’s snowboard slopestyle final at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Sunday.

The Associated Press

  


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