Jamie Anderson celebrates winning gold in women's snowboard slopestyle at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 12, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Jamie Anderson is hardly new to the podium. Her career began by breaking records when she became the youngest person to medal at an X Games at 15 years old. Since then, she’s collected an extraordinary 15 X Games medals, five of which are gold, as well as one Olympic gold medal.
Or rather, make that two.
Anderson continued to make history during Monday afternoon’s women’s slopestyle final when she became the only female snowboarder to win two Olympic gold medals. The 27-year-old simultaneously renewed her lease on the title, “Only Person to Ever Win Olympic Women’s Slopestyle Snowboarding” for another four years.
Sure, she’s been through the customary post-Olympic-win routine of embracing family, smiling for cameras and waving to fans once before. And yet, nothing about her championship performance was business as usual.
It became clear to all 26 athletes on Monday morning that Mother Nature would be their biggest obstacle on the course. The already condensed 10 a.m. event was postponed for an hour and 15 minutes in hopes the risky wind conditions would die down.
The wind calmed enough for the event to start, but still proved to give the competitors trouble from start to finish. Just five of the riders cleanly completed their first runs and seven completed their second.
Anderson’s clean first run earned her 83.00 points as well as a comfortable lead. The lead was enough that a fall on her second run didn’t steal her chance at a second gold medal.
Canada’s Laurie Blouin won silver with a 76.33 on her second run, and Enni Rukajarvi took bronze with a 75.38 on her second.
From the look on Anderson's face when she realized she cinched the win, you’d never guess she’s been fighting an inner confidence battle since Sochi 2014.
“I’ve been going through a lot this past year, especially the last few years with women’s riding really progressing at a crazy rate,” she said. “I think going into Sochi, I had more confidence. I knew I was one of the top riders and in the last year, getting more second [places] and third [places] and even further down, I was like, ‘Wow, I have a lot of work to do.’”
Although it didn’t happen overnight, Anderson came to use the sport’s progress as motivation and inspiration rather than cause to worry.
“I think just being on top of [the sport] for a long time and then having all these new, young girls come out of the woodworks like Hailey Langland (17) and Julia Marino (20), girls on my team pushing the sport, I was really afraid,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I don’t know how I’m going to keep up with these young bucks.’
In the end, Anderson insists that the rollercoaster of emotion ultimately made snowboarding more fun. For years, her teammates and competition pushed her to try tricks she never thought were possible.
Despite her new repertoire, Anderson preferred function over fashion for both of her runs. She kept it simple and chose tricks that were easier to land as opposed to going big and falling hard, and even made some in-air adjustments to improve her stability.
In the end, only Anderson knows just how trying her road to a second Olympic gold medal was, but the struggles made embracing her family, smiling for cameras and waving to fans once again all the more worth it.
Cat Hendrick is a student in the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is part of TeamUSA.org’s coverage team for the PyeongChang Games.