Jamie Anderson, teammates hope to take second slopestyle gold for Team USA
With the first snowboard slopestyle final - the men's event - already under the belt and the gold medal going to Team USA, the focus now shifts to the women of slopestyle as they take to the course on Sunday.
The question now: will the American women bring home another gold?
The odds are looking favorable, as Jamie Anderson is and has been the most dominant woman to ride a slopestyle course for the past six years. Since 2011 she has won 26 events, and out of the last 35 events she's entered, she has been on the podium at 33 of them. Coming into the Sochi Games, Anderson also won four of the five U.S. selection events held this season.
Embedded video_content_type: Jamie Anderson qualifies in snowboarding slopestyle
Many would say that this is her event to lose. However, there is always a chance for an upset, which is what makes slopestyle one of the most entertaining events to watch.
Anderson has already advanced herself straight to the final by virtue of qualifying in second place during the opening round on Thursday, allowing her to focus just on that final round. Not all of Anderson's teammates will have that luxury though - several still need to get themselves into the final first.
Below is a breakdown of the rest of the U.S. Olympic women’s snowboard slopestyle team that will have Anderson’s back going into the events on Sunday — each one with the abilities and ambition to find their way to the podium.
Karly Shorr, from out of nowhere
She's never competed in X Games, yet Karly Shorr has advanced straight to the final for the Sochi Olympics. So, where did she come from?
This time last year if you asked about anyone in or around the snowboard industry about Shorr, they would likely not be able to say her name rang a bell. Well, that changed in the weeks leading into the Games where she came out swinging at the U.S. selection events where she took two second place finishes.
Shorr hails from the tiny town of Milford, Mich. but now lives in Mammoth, which is where she earned those second-place finishes and subsequently was picked for Team USA as a discretionary selection.
Karly Shorr (Photo: Getty Images)
Shorr is already locked into the final round after sneaking into the final transfer spot for her heat with her last run during qualifying on Thursday.
“Being in an Olympic final was not really something I ever thought was possible,” she said. But now that she's proven that it is possible, it's time to see if she can step up and bring the heat.
Jessika Jenson, coach’s choice
The other member to make the U.S. Olympic women’s snowboard slopestyle team as a discretionary pick, Jessika Jenson was a bit of a no-brainer as she seemed to, as they say, peak at the right time - earning two third-place finishes at the final two U.S. selection events. Jenson is hoping to keep that momentum rolling in Sochi but her road will first take her through the semifinal. She will need a top-four finish in order to move on to the final round.
Jessika Jenson (Photo: Getty Images)
Jenson is a go-getter that not only slays on a snowboard but also had the drive to start her own neck warmer company. Pretty ambitious. Don’t forget that she also raised funds online in order to attend and compete in those U.S. selection events that ultimately awarded her a trip to Sochi.
Ty Walker, the trooper
Ty Walker has shown she means business at the ripe age of 16 years young by earning her spot on Team USA with two fourth-place finishes and a third during the qualification events preceding the Games. At one of those events, she was the highest-placing American - topping even Jamie Anderson.
Walker - who is actually named Taylor, but has been going by Ty since one of her coaches mistakenly thought her name was Tyler - has been competing since the age of nine and riding for the U.S. pro team since the age of fourteen.
Ty Walker (Photo: Getty Images)
One word that describes Walker: dedication. Leading the double life of a student on the road to becoming a top-tier snowboarder, Walker continues to impress her coaches and teammates with her passion for her sport and her drive to progress herself.
During the training days at the Olympics, Walker sustained a somewhat serious injury to her heel and has been soaking in ice buckets ever since. For her qualification run, she opted to ride down the course without hitting a single obstacle to ensure she completed a run and would therefore be eligible to compete again in the semifinal. Her injury may have stopped her from flipping down the course but it didn’t stop her from toughing it out and walking during the Opening Ceremony.
If there is one woman who can block out physical pain with serious mental drive, it is Walker. She is a trooper. And she'll get a chance to prove it starting with Sunday's semifinal - if the extra time off indeed allowed her to heal.
The international threats
While Anderson is still considered the favorite, it's clear that a gold medal in the Olympic debut of women's slopestyle will not come easy.
Now healthy, Canada's Spencer O'Brien is in the field for the final and has been Anderson's chief rival over the last few years. Anderson's biggest competition may come from top qualifier Anna Gasser of Austria though. Going back to X Games, Gasser has shown to have a strong bag of tricks and could be a factor in this one.
Gasser (pictured) posted a higher score than Anderson in qualifying.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Australia's Torah Bright has established herself as one to watch as well. The 2010 gold medalist in halfpipe, who wasn't expected to contend for a medal in slopestyle, posted a strong run in the qualifier.
Norway's Silje Norendal poses a potential threat as well, considering she defeated Anderson at X Games just two weeks ago. But first Norendal will need to advance through the semifinal after falling on her both of runs during the qualifying round.
Action resumes with the semifinal (1:30 a.m. ET; NBCOlympics.com) and final (4:15 p.m. ET; NBCOlympics.com) on Sunday.
Embedded video_content_type: Torah Bright cruises to slopestyle finals
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