Reigning Olympic silver medalist Jamie Anderson of the U.S. didn't make the cut Monday for the women's snowboard big air final, placing 15th in qualifying for another frustrating result at her third Winter Games. Her teammate Hailey Langland advanced in the last spot.
Anderson, whose three-peat title bid in last week's slopestyle final also came up short (ninth), couldn't stick the landings on her first two jumps — so despite stomping the second-best Run 3 of all competitors, she lacked a solid run with which to pair and missed the 12-rider cutoff.
"Honestly heartbroken. Such a high high when you do well here and the worst low when you can’t pull it together. I thought for sure I had it. I really did, trying to do a safe-bet jump. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be," Anderson said.
“Really wished I could have pulled it together today. I really wanted to try to get a medal, especially after slopestyle. I've got to just take it for what it is and learn from the experience. I’m really proud of all the other girls who were able to put it down. It’s a lot of pressure for everyone. So, lots of respect.”
New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, the gold medalist in slopestyle, hit a perfect backside 1080 on her first run for an 85.50, then upped the ante with a seemingly casual frontside double cork 1080 for a 91.00, combining for a 176.50 to top qualifying and enter the final as the top rider.
"That was good. I'm stoked about the conditions, and stoked to put down the tricks that I did," Sadowski-Synnott said. "We've got finals [Tuesday] and I hope I can put down the tricks, and see where that gets me. I've got a trick I've been working on."
Japanese trio Kokomo Murase, Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka placed second, third and fifth. Murase, 17, also landed a pair of 1080s for a total score of 171.00. Iwabuchi tried for a 1260 on her third run but under-rotated, while Onitsuka opened up the competition with a sweet backside double 10.
"I'm happy that all the Japanese girls have qualified," Iwabuchi said. "But it is going to be a hard competition in the final. I will just focus on doing my best."
Langland, known for her style, went cab 900 and frontside 720 on her first and second runs with iconic finesse, recording 62.00 and 65.50. She tried another cab 900 on her last run to try and replace her first score, but came up short on the knuckle. Afterward, she spoke with her mom and dogs back home.
Anderson was asked whether she plans to retire any time soon.
“I don’t know," she said. "Part of me just wants to quit. Part of me wants to go work harder and come back and win everything because I know I’m capable. But it’s been a long journey for me. I [will] definitely just take a little time and go freeride with some pal and then reset and see what I feel."
Later, she expressed her feelings on how the competition went:
“It will have some high highs and some lows. And that's life. And I think it shows the true, raw reality of what it’s like. It’s great when things go great but I think it shows a lot of courage and strength to people to still keep your head high when things don’t work out. And I’m going to practice, lighten myself and not beat myself up too much.”