U.S. snowboarder Jamie Anderson won the women’s snowboard slopestyle competition at the Winter Olympics in South Korea on Monday, successfully defending the gold medal she won at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Anderson won after high winds delayed the competition at Phoenix Snow Park — and the conditions almost wrecked her medal-winning performance.
“I wanted to do a double nine [trick] on my first run and I went for it and realized I wasn’t going to clear the jumps. Thankfully somehow I connected with my lion power and found [my] feet,” Anderson said, in comments transcribed by the Olympics’ news service.
The strong wind also forced a change in format: instead of having three runs to attain a best score, the athletes were given just two tries. It turned out that Anderson, 27, needed only one: her first run netted a score of 83.00 – easily the best of the field, with the other podium finishers scoring below 75 points.
“It’s hard. We have to be so intuitive with the weather, the course, with how you feel,” Anderson said. “I’m just so happy I put one down and I really didn’t think it was going to last over to the second run. I was planning on doing a better run and cleaning everything up, but honestly, I’m ecstatic.”
Canada’s Laurie Blouin won silver, and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi won bronze. Two of Anderson’s fellow Americans in the field, Jessika Jenson and Haley Langland, finished in the top six. Julia Marino was 11th.
“I’m feeling so happy,” Anderson said. “I’ve gone through so much this last year just preparing for the Games and defending the gold is definitely not an easy position to be in. I had a lot of pressure and I’m just so proud of myself. It was really tough conditions today and a lot of people were struggling.”
Anderson has bounced back from several injuries since her win in Sochi, including a broken elbow she suffered last year.
With the win, Anderson joins Red Gerard as America’s two Olympic gold medalists in slopestyle; the U.S. also swept the event in Sochi, where it was held for the first time at the Winter Olympics.
“I could have cried seeing my dad and mom and all my siblings, and family and friends being so happy,” Anderson said. “You know, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t think we can do anything without the support of each other and it’s not just me, it’s all these people around me that keep my spirits lifted and help me to be my best self.”
Anderson is now tied with four other athletes as the only snowboarders to win two gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games. That list includes Shaun White, who will try to add to his medal total here in Pyeongchang.
In addition to the shorter final, the snowboarders’ two qualifying runs were canceled, as organizers tried to adjust the crowded schedule. Those qualifying runs had originally been scheduled for Sunday afternoon — but high winds changed that plan.
Windy conditions in Pyeongchang have forced the postponement of events at other venues as well, including the women’s giant slalom and men’s downhill.