American Jamie Anderson wins gold in women’s slopestyle

Jamie Anderson, of the United States, celebrates winning gold after the women's slopestyle final at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Jamie Anderson celebrated defending her Olympic title in slopestyle

Jamie Anderson will almost certainly spend more time gazing at her newest Olympic gold medal than watching replays of the slopestyle run she put down to win it.

Nobody, not even the Olympic champion, would want to relive the ugliness that played out Monday on the sport’s biggest stage.

The day Anderson cemented herself as an all-time great by defending her Olympic title will also go down as one of the most unpleasant, dangerous days snowboarding has ever seen.


Shifting, bitter winds whipped tiny ice pellets across the iced-over jumps at the Phoenix Snow Park and stiffened the orange-colored wind socks in one direction, then another.

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Twenty-five riders each took two trips down a course that, by many of their accounts, should not have been open for action. Of the 50 runs, 41 ended with a rider on her backside, or in a face plant, or, in the case of Canadian Spencer O’Brien and a few others, in a slow ride toward the bottom after simply pulling up because they couldn’t build enough speed to reach the crest of a jump.

‘‘All I wanted to do,’’ said fourth-place finisher Silje Norendal, ‘‘was sit up top and cry.’’

This was not just sour grapes. Even Anderson — the sport’s biggest gamer and its No. 1 big-day rider — conceded, ‘‘I’m not extremely proud of my run.’’ Her modest score of 83 still resulted in a blowout of nearly 7 points over silver medalist Laurie Blouin of Canada.

But really, what was Anderson to do? After the qualifying round was scrubbed because of wind a day earlier, all the riders were summoned back for a two-run final and ordered by their world ranking, giving the top-ranked American the privilege of going last.


After watching rider after rider fail to make her way down the course during Run 1, Anderson added a little wax to her board and stood on top, hoping for a 60-second stretch of calm that would allow her to simply stay upright.

‘‘It was a lottery,’’ O’Brien said.

Two weeks ago, Anderson won the Winter X Games with a cab double cork 900 — two head-over-heels flips with 2½ twists mixed in. It was one of the gold standards in a sport that prides itself on — in fact, lives for — progression, sometimes at the cost of safety, sanity, and everything else.

On this day, Anderson was never tempted to try that kind of trick. Her three jumps at the bottom consisted of a backside 540, a cab 540, and a front 720 — 1½ twists, 1½ twists, and two twists. It was the sort of run that might’ve won a contest in, say, 2005 — if the rest of the riders were having an off day.

Anderson owned the fact that she won by simply surviving, and also took credit for being one of the few snowboarders who actually wanted to ride.


‘‘I was trying to keep the spirits high, like, ‘Let’s run it,’ ’’ she said. ‘‘A handful of the girls were like, ‘No, it’s not safe,’ and things like that. It’s not like what we’re doing is safe, anyhow.’’

Speedskating — Three events into the Olympic speedskating competition and the Americans remain off the podium.

The latest setback came Monday night when world champion Heather Bergsma finished eighth in the 1,500 meters. Brittany Bowe had the highest US finish of fifth, while Mia Manganello was 22nd out of 26 skaters.

Bergsma faded badly on her last lap, with her time going up three seconds from her previous lap.

Bergsma’s time of 1 minute, 56.74 seconds was well off her personal best of 1:50.85, also the current world mark she set two years ago. She finished 2.39 seconds behind gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.

‘‘Only gold is the one that counts for me,’’ Wust said, reflecting on the medal that eluded her by only 0.08 seconds in the 3,000 Saturday.

Wust won her fifth Olympic gold medal, and her 10th medal overall, beating the record set by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein. Wust finished ahead of Miho Takagi of Japan, while Marrit Leenstra made sure two more speedskating medals went to the Netherlands.

Women’s ski jumping — Maren Lundby of Norway overcame frigid temperatures win the normal hill gold medal.

Lundby, who has won seven of 10 events this season, nailed a jump of 110 meters for 264.6 points to capture Norway’s second gold of the Games.

‘‘I knew when I landed I had won because I saw the green light go on,’’ Lundby said, referring to the light that indicates how far you have to jump to take the lead. ‘‘I didn’t look at the scoreboard but I heard the announcers say, ‘It’s gold.’ ’’

Katharina Althaus of Germany was second, followed by Sara Takanashi of Japan.

Biathlon — Martin Fourcade of France bounced back with a vengeance to win gold in the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit. The victory came after an uncharacteristically poor eighth-place performance in the opening sprint race Sunday that left the world’s No. 1 biathlete questioning himself.

It wasn’t until Fourcade saw pictures of himself on the shooting range that he began to understand what went wrong. The red flags on the course that indicate wind were blowing more than he realized.

‘‘At that time I realized it wasn’t because I was unlucky, it was because I did a mistake,’’ the Frenchman said. ‘‘From that time on it was much easier to turn my anger into strength for the [next] competition.’’

Fourcade’s victory came after Laura Dahlmeier gave Germany its third straight gold medal in the biathlon — and her second overall — in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit.