Anna Gasser edges out Jamie Anderson for big air gold
With a pair of double cork 1080s, Austria's Anna Gasser has become the first-ever Olympic champion in women's snowboard big air.
Progression was the name of the game in the big air final, and the format created some interesting strategy. Each rider's total score was based on their best two scores (out of three), but those scores had to come from different tricks.
Gasser was extremely consistent throughout the competition. She started with a cab double underflip, a trick she's had on lock for a while now, on her first attempt. With a solid score on the board, she then put down a backside double cork 1080 on her second attempt.
Heading into her final run, Gasser was sitting in second place, just a few points behind U.S. rider Jamie Anderson.
"I was standing up there and I knew I had the silver and I only could win," she said. "I was like, 'No, I'm going to go full risk and if it works out then I deserve this medal.'"
That's when Gasser landed her cab double cork 1080, which earned a 96 from the judges (the highest score awarded to any individual trick during the final) and vaulted her above Anderson into first place.
Anderson ended up with a silver medal, but it was nearly a gold. She landed a frontside 1080 on her first run and a cab double cork 900 on her second run to put her in position for a potential win. She attempted to move up to a cab double cork 1080 on her third and final run but was unable to land the trick. She maintained the lead until Gasser bumped her down on the very last run of the contest.
"[The cab double cork 1080] isn't as consistent for me, I just only started doing it yesterday," Anderson said. "So I chose to kind of play it a little bit safe and put two [other tricks] down and then hope to land [the cab 10] on my third run, which unfortunately didn't work out. But I'm so proud of myself for just sending it and trying it."
The medal is Anderson's second of these Olympics. Earlier in these Games, she successfully defended her slopestyle gold medal, but it came in a crash-filled contest that was marred by heavy gusts of winds. Even though Anderson won the contest, the tricks she used in her run were dialed back from what she had hoped to use.
That's what makes her big air medal — even though it's silver instead of gold — so sweet.
"[The big air medal] feels better because we have great conditions and everyone was able to ride their best, so it feels rewarding," she said.
With three total medals for her career, Anderson now joins Kelly Clark and Shaun White as the sport's only three-time Olympic medalists.
New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott took bronze thanks to a big score for her switch backside 900 on her second run. She became just the second athlete from New Zealand to ever earn a Winter Olympic medal and she's just 16 years old.
A few hours later, fellow 16-year-old Kiwi Nico Porteous scored a bronze medal in men's freeski halfpipe to give New Zealand its third ever Winter Olympic medal. Prior to today, the only other time it had happened was in 1992, and neither Sadowski-Synnott nor Porteous was even born yet.
Highlights of some of the top runs can be found further below.
Gold: Anna Gasser (AUT), 185.00
Silver: Jamie Anderson (USA), 177.25
Bronze: Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), 157.50
4. Reira Iwabuchi (JPN), 147.50
5. Sina Candrian (SUI), 140.25
6. Silje Norendal (NOR), 131.50
7. Yuka Fujimori (JPN), 122.75
8. Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN), 119.00
9. Spencer O'Brien (CAN), 113.25
10. Julia Marino (USA), 93.25
11. Jessika Jenson (USA), 40.50
12. Laurie Blouin (CAN), 39.25