The second run was when things really started popping, but with many riders clearly headed into uncharted waters – at least as far as a contest is concerned – there were few runs put down clean. Julia Marino, after a run 1 overcook, looked to step up to a Cab double 10. She got it, but the landing was scruffy. Slopestyle silver medallist Laurie Blouin, nursing a bit of a tweak from her first jump, again went huge with a super slow Cab double 9, but again couldn’t hold on. The Japanese, too, were pushing their limits now – Reira going for a back 10 double Mute but wheelieing the landing, as did Miyabi Onitsuka, while Yuka went for a front double 9 that had hearts in mouths as she opened up early on and sailed sideways through the sky.
It wasn’t all sketching in run 2, though. Zoi, as she’d done in qualification, unleashed a monster of a switch back 9 – camera guy almost lost her in the live shot – to bag 92 points (the second highest individual run score of the day) and a shot at the podium. After Sina Candrian overcooked her first front 10 attempt she got it at the second bite and had something to build on, while Anderson piled more pressure on Gasser by stomping a huge, corked, Cab double 9. 87.25 points, two good scores on the board… how do you cope with pressure, Anna?
Her answer? Back double 10 Melon. While she held it long and had solid style, she certainly could have sent it deeper – landing around the first blue line – and while the score of 89 points was high, it wasn’t enough to overtake Jamie’s combined scores.
With our bingo cards ready for “It all. Comes down. To this.” commentary, it was time for the third and final run. By now it was clear that this was a two horse race for gold, and though Jamie had landed the two hits we’d seen her do before, Anna had yet to have a pop at her switch front double 10 that had bagged her 98 points in the qualifiers. We weren’t sure if Anderson had anything left in her locker, but then again, Gasser would need to cleanly stomp her trick once more or the upset would be on.
“By now it was clear that this was a two horse race for gold”
With the pressure on most girls understandably went for broke, and while a lot weren’t able to put it down there were some who moved up the rankings – Spencer O’Brien getting her back 7 Melon a bit cleaner, Candrian putting down a switch back 9 – and before we knew it it was Anderson’s last shot to improve her score. Gasser was to drop last.
- Anna Gasser – JNS / 89.00 / 96.00 // 185.00
- Jamie Anderson – 90.00 / 87.25 / JNS // 177.25
- Zoi Sadowski-Synnott – 65.50 / 92.00 / JNS // 157.50
- Reira Iwabuchi – 79.75 / 67.75 / JNS // 147.50
- Sina Candrian – JNS / 76.25 / 64.00 // 140.25
- Silje Norendal – 70.50 / 61.00 / JNS // 131.50
- Yuka Fujimori – 82.25 / 40.50 / JNS // 122.75
- Miyabi Onitsuka – 78.75 / JNS / 40.25 // 119.00
- Spencer O’Brien – 51.25 / JNS / 62.00 // 113.25
- Julia Marino – JNS / 74.50 / 18.75 // 93.25
- Jessika Jenson – JNS / 21.50 / 19.00 // 40.50
- Laurie Blouin – JNS / 39.25 / DNS // 39.25
We said we didn’t think she had anything left to pull out, but damn she made a good fist of it. The American went full send, launching an enormous Cab double 10 but exploded on impact. Fair play, Jamie. She left it all on the hill there. Once more the question was asked: How do you like pressure, Anna?
After a couple more ‘close but no cigar’ moments – the promising Zoi having seen her outside chance of gold vanish after valiantly trying a front 10 double but coming unstuck – we reached our final rider and final run of the day. Gasser dropped in and sent her switch front double 10 into the history books. Big, stomped clean, and after a bit of a nervy wait, rewarded with 96 points. Combined with her score for the back 10 double it leapfrogged her over Jamie Anderson and meant the name Anna Gasser will be known forever more as snowboarding’s first ever Olympic Big Air Gold medallist. It finished Anna first, Jamie second, and the promising up-and-comer Zoi (expect to see this Kiwi on more podiums in the future) in bronze.
Moreover, props to all the girls involved in this final. The level was by far the highest we’ve ever seen in a women’s Big Air, and hopefully this goes some way to both banish the flatulent memory of the women’s slopestyle, and mark the dawn of a new era of women’s contest kicker riding. The fact that a bunch of the girls were still teenagers means chances are things will only get more bonkers moving forwards. Respect!
1. Anna GASSER – JNS / 89.00 / 96.00 // 185.00
2. Jamie ANDERSON – 90.00 / 87.25 / JNS // 177.25
3. Zoi SADOWSKI SYNNOTT – 65.50 / 92.00 / JNS // 157.50
4. Reira IWABUCHI – 79.75 / 67.75 / JNS // 147.50
5. Sina CANDRIAN – JNS / 76.25 / 64.00 // 140.25
6. Silje NORENDAL – 70.50 / 61.00 / JNS // 131.50
7. Yuka FUJIMORI – 82.25 / 40.50 / JNS // 122.75
8. Miyabi ONITSUKA – 78.75 / JNS / 40.25 // 119.00
9. Spencer O’BRIEN – 51.25 / JNS / 62.00 // 113.25
10. Julia MARINO – JNS / 74.50 / 18.75 // 93.25
11. Jessika JENSON – JNS / 21.50 / 19.00 // 40.50
12. Laurie BLOUIN – JNS / 39.25 / DNS // 39.25
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