KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Since she was just 15 years old, Jamie Anderson has been one of the most consistent and successful women’s slopestyle competitors to set foot on a snowboard. She filled her trophy case with eight Winter X Games medals and found the podium in so many other big events. And now that slopestyle has made its debut at the Winter Games, the 23-year old Anderson can add something new to her snowboarding resume: Olympic champion.
Anderson put together a nearly flawless final run, leapfrogging the field and earning an impressive score of 95.25, good enough for Olympic gold. It’s the third medal for the Americans at these Sochi Games and the second gold. Sage Kotsenburg won the men’s slopestyle competition one day earlier.
Anderson, a Lake Tahoe, Calif., native, had a smooth first run through the rails and the first two jumps. She didn’t land the third cleanly, though, but still posted a score of 80.75, the second-best through the first half of the final round, trailing only the Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova (86.25).
The bar was quickly raised in the second round, though. Great Britain’s Jenny Jones was the second rider of the competition’s final round. She wowed the crowd and impressed the judges, posting an 87.25. Switzerland’s Sina Candrian nearly matched her with an 87.0 before Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi eventually topped them all with a 92.5.
Anderson, who entered these games as a favorite for gold, could only wait. When it was finally her turn — the 10th of 12 riders — she stood in fifth place and needed a big run. And that’s exactly what she delivered. She glided along the rails and floated off the jumps. When the score was announced, her 95.25 vaulted her into first.
The final two riders couldn’t catch her. Rukajarvi won silver and Jones took bronze.
Gold medalist Jamie Anderson: ″It’s like playing. We’re pretty much snowboarding on a playground up there.” pic.twitter.com/VvYaecprdN— Rick Maese (@RickMaese) February 9, 2014
Sunday also marked the first Olympic event for Australia’s Torah Bright, who won gold in the women’s halfpipe at the Vancouver Games, and came to Sochi targeting three events. Her score of 66.25 was good enough for a seventh-place finish.
The only other American to reach the 12-person finals was Karly Shorr, who posted a high score of 75.0 and finished the competition in sixth place.