PyeongChang 2018: Jamie Anderson defends snowboard slopestyle title


To get to the competition venue for the women’s snowboard slopestyle event at the Bokwang Phoenix Snow Park, one not only had to battle a mountain teasingly posing as a hill, but also temperatures that ultimately reached a low of 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-12.8 Celsius) that day.

Plus the snow caked under one’s feet.

Plus the wind gusts and inevitable wind chill.


If that predicament sounded daunting for a spectator, imagine the reality for the 26 competitors in just the second Olympic-level competition for the sport.  Starting at an even higher elevation, the six sections – three of them rails, three of them jumps – spared no room for error even on a clear windless day.  While one might scoff at the conditions – this was a Winter Olympics after all – it should be noted that the qualification rounds the day before were all canceled.  In fact, some competitors even asked to postpone the finals, to no avail.

Alas, with the elimination of the qualification round, the final went ahead after a delay of an hour and change in a revised format of a two runs per person, best score takes all showdown.  What could have been a follow-up showcase for a relatively new Olympic event instead disintegrated into frustration, futility, fear, and a simple four-word strategy: “Stay on your feet.”


How many competitors managed to do this in the first run?  Just five.  That’s right, fewer than 20 percent of the field was able to navigate all six sections, most of the top portion obscured from the audience’s view but visible on large screens flanking both sides of the course.  It didn’t take much to see the havoc wreaked upon the competitors, with the wind literally blowing snowboarders around midair as they attempted rotations.

The last of the women to go in the opening run, defending champion Jamie Anderson of the United States, saw what was happening and knew what she had to do to become the first female snowboarder to win two Olympic gold medals: play it safe and water down the routine.  A score of 83.00 points flashed on the screen and already it was obvious that she bagged the title.  Canadian Laurie Blouin won the silver, Enni Rukajärvi of Finland the bronze.


“It definitely was a struggle out there today for everyone,” the 27-year-old Anderson said in a press conference after the event.  “I’m just happy that I was able to put one down.”

Later in the Games, Anderson won a silver medal behind Austria’s Anna Gasser in the debut for women’s big air.

Photos: Snowboard Ladies’ Slopestyle Final – 2018 Winter Olympics
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine