Jamie Anderson wins Olympic slopestyle Gold at Sochi 2014

All Photos: Chris Wellhausen

As the gold medal slopestyle favorite heading into the Sochi Olympics, Jamie Anderson carried the most pressure of all 12 women who made the finals this afternoon. But while the world watched as she prepared to drop in for her second run, she simply smiled, took a deep breath, and did her best to let go of it all.

Third from last to drop, Jamie had just endured a series of high scoring runs from Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi, England’s Jenny Jones, and Switzerland’s Sina Candrian who landed the first contest 1080 for a woman. After posting only an 80.75 on her first run, Jamie now needed a score better than Enni’s 92.50 to take the top spot. And then she flowed like water through a near-perfect performance, stomping a Cab 720 tail grab, massive switch backside 540, and frontside 720 giving her a 95. 25.

“After getting second at X Games last week I was really passionate and determined to come out here and do my best,” Jamie said. “I was doing everything I could to be my most rounded, strong self. Even with the hype of everything from the outside world. I just took a moment, took a deep breath, and saw everything I wanted to happen, saw myself landing, the happiness of my family.”

Jamie Anderson’s Olympic slopestyle gold medal run

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If Jamie’s trick selection seems a little less than what was expected to earn Olympic gold it’s because the women had been watching closely as style-master Sage Kotsenburg took the surprise win over favorite Mark McMorris yesterday.

For the women this afternoon, Sina’s run with the 1080 was a turning point for their strategies as they waited to see where she would place. Sina had just landed a trick that had never been done in competition but she had also dragged her hand pretty hard on the landing. One run before that Jenny Jones landed a super smooth jump line with a Cab 540, backside 360, and frontside 720 that was worth an 87.25. Would the judges reward progression or would they value style and clean landings more?

After a few moments of deliberation Sina was handed an 87.00, barely giving the edge to Jenny. Put together with the men’s result from the day before it was clear what the judges wanted to see.

“I thought about a Cab 10 today, but I saw after watching the event yesterday I saw that the judges were really down for style,” Jamie said. “I mean, Sina did a really insane 1080 today, the first ever, but at the end of the day I wanted to do something I knew I could do perfectly and not risk doing a new trick but falling.”

Talking her queue from Sina’s score as well, Enni then put down a run with a frontside 720, backside 540, and Cab 720 that got her a 92.50, good enough for gold until Jamie displaced her. Jamie’s score also moved Jenny into the bronze medal position, the first Olympic medal for England in any snow sport.

Enni Rukajarvi’s Olympic silver medal run

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Jenny Jones’s Olympic silver medal run

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It was a hard day for Canadian Spencer O’Brien who came to Sochi fresh off a third place finish at X Games and was widely viewed as a serious medal contender. Spencer had a clean rail section on her runs but washed out both times on a backside 720 on the second jump. She was visibly shaken at the bottom of the course after failing to complete a full run.

Norway’s Silje Norendal, who had just won gold at the X Games, also struggled to complete a run as she fell on a switch backside 540 off the second jump.

Although she finished seventh today, Torah Bright, who is the only snowboarder competing in slopestyle, boardercross, and pipe, wasted no time going for Cab 900 on her first run. Torah sat on the landing but managed to finish her fun with a backside 360 and frontside 360 off the next two jumps. With clean landings affecting so much of riders scores the bobble on her nine kept her well off the podium.

That’s it for slope. The men’s halfpipe semifinals get underway on Tuesday at 14:00 p.m. Moscow Time.

Full Olympic slopestyle results

1. Jamie Anderson (USA) — 95.25
2. Enni Rukajarvi (FIN) — 92.50
3. Jenny Jones (GBR) — 87.25
4. Sina Candrian (SUI) — 87.00
5. Sarka Pancochova (CZE) — 86.25
6. Karly Shorr (USA) — 75.00
7. Torah Bright (AUS) — 66.25
8. Isabel Derungs (SUI) — 58.50
9. Elena Koenz (SUI) — 54.50
10. Anna Gasser (AUT) — 51.75
11. Silje Norendal (NOR) — 49.50
12. Spencer O’Brien (CAN) — 35. 00

More Sochi 2014 Olympic stories here

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Jamie Anderson, your Olympic slopestyle gold medal winner. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Check out Jamie Anderson’s ‘Living The Dream’ Episode 1 right here: