Sochi gold medalist Jamie Anderson makes another Olympics
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Jamie Anderson will be headed to the 2018 Olympics to defend her gold medal, and she’s hoping to bring some big tricks with her.
By finishing in second place, best among U.S. slopestyle riders, at Dew Tour Breckenridge, Anderson has confirmed her nomination to the U.S. Olympic snowboard team for both slopestyle and big air.
The Breckenridge event served as the third of five selection events for the slopestyle and big air team.
On her second and third runs, Anderson attempted to up the ante by adding a cab double underflip — one of the most progressive tricks in women’s slopestyle snowboarding right now.
She washed out on both attempts but was able to finish on the podium based on the strength of her first run.
The cab double underflip is a new trick for Anderson this season. She learned it earlier this year and then landed it in a contest for the first time back in August.
It’s also a trick that U.S. teammate Julia Marino and Austria’s Anna Gasser had dialed in last season when they beat Anderson at several contests.
“When I was asked about double corks three years ago, I think I said there was no way in hell I ever want to do double corks,” Anderson said. “And then, with a lot of the other girls slowly getting their double corks together, I started to shift my mindset and realize that we also are capable of doing these tricks.”
So far, she’s only landed the trick a handful of times. And in the process of learning it, she’s endured some rough crashes that have upped the fear factor of the trick for her.
“I still feel pretty not-that-comfortable going upside-down twice, but it’s fun and it’s starting to click a little bit more,” she said.
Defending her slopestyle gold medal in PyeongChang will be no easy task for Anderson.
Gasser has been dominant over the last year thanks in part to her mastery of the cab double underflip, and Canada’s Spencer O’Brien has put her name in the mix as well after taking the victory in Breckenridge.
Anderson will also have a chance to compete in big air in PyeongChang, though her strongest results have historically come in slopestyle.
Hailey Langland (fourth place) and Marino (sixth place) finished second and third among Americans in Breckenridge.
Both will be expected to secure spots on the team at one of the next two selection events. A fourth spot on the team could be awarded at the discretion of the coaches.
On the men’s side, Chris Corning became the first male rider to confirm a nomination to the Olympic slopestyle and big air team after placing second at the selection event.
Not only did Corning have big tricks like a switch backside 1260 and a backside triple cork 1440 in his run, he also had a variety of unique grabs on his tricks.
His run was bested only by Canadian star Max Parrot, who put down technical tricks in the rail sections and a triple cork 1440 on the final jump.
Last week, Corning was the top American at the big air qualifier at Copper Mountain. He placed second overall in that contest as well.
“It’s crazy to be up here on the podium with these guys. I’ve looked up to these guys for such a long time,” 18-year-old Corning said afterward. “And then being on the Olympic team is a crazy feeling, because we’ve worked so hard to get here.”
Red Gerard looks likely to join Corning on the Olympic team after finishing second among Americans.
The 17-year-old won the first slopestyle qualifier, which was held last season, and now has a pair of top-two finishes among U.S. riders. That means he’s likely to secure a spot on the team at one of the final two selection events.
The U.S. men enter the PyeongChang Olympics as underdogs in slopestyle and big air snowboarding.
Now-retired Sage Kotsenburg was a surprise gold medalist in Sochi, but this event has been dominated by riders from Canada and Norway in recent years.
Corning, a relative unknown just a few years ago who is now one of snowboarding’s biggest rising stars, is optimistic that he can keep the strong results coming as the PyeongChang Olympics approach, though he acknowledges that much of it is out of his control.
“I’ve been competing with these guys for a while, and we do contests together all the time, so I pretty well know what their tricks are going to be,” Corning said. “But you can’t really think about it too much because you’ve got to do your run, and what the judges score your run, they score your run. You can’t really change anything about it.”
The final two Olympic qualifiers for the slopestyle and big air team will take place in January.
U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Big Air/Slopestyle (through three of five events)
1. Chris Corning -- 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Red Gerard -- 1,800*
3. Chandler Hunt -- 1,160*
4. Kyle Mack -- 1,000*
5. Judd Henkes -- 1,100
1. Jamie Anderson -- 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino -- 1,600*
2. Hailey Langland -- 1,600*
4. Jessika Jenson -- 1,050
5. Ty Walker -- 1,000
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result.
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Breckenridge Finals (all times Eastern)
Men’s Ski Halfpipe -- 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Women’s Ski Halfpipe -- 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe -- 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe -- 4:15-5 p.m.
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle -- 11-11:45 a.m.
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle -- 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Men’s Ski Slopestyle -- 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Women’s Ski Slopestyle -- 4:15-5 p.m.