(L-R) Silver medalist Jamie Anderson, gold medalist Anna Gasser of Austria and bronze medalist Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand celebrate in the victory ceremony after the snowboard - women's big air final at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 22, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Three times on Thursday Jamie Anderson stood ready for a run and looked down at the world from the height of a 12-story building. Olympic medals were at stake. The world’s best athletes took turns before and after Anderson jumped.
Yet, she never showed signs of nerves during the big air snowboarding event in PyeongChang. If anything, she looked calm and comfortable as she swayed back and forth with a slight grin before she dropped onto the ramp.
“I love to feel good, and I don't want to feel stressed or anxious,” Anderson said. “Today I felt pretty relaxed.”
Her day started with a hot shower, essential oils and tea with ghee. Anderson’s relaxed day later included a silver medal, her third Olympic medal and second at these Games.
After her first run, Anderson led all her competitors in the 12-woman final. In big air, each athlete takes three runs and their best two scores are combined for their total score. She hit her second run, too, and kept the lead all the way until the final run of the day.
To close out the competition, Austria’s Anna Gasser, the reigning X Games and world champion, surpassed Anderson’s mark to win the gold medal. As Anderson watched, she was just as relaxed as normal, even though the next few moments determined whether she would earn a gold or silver medal.
“I came out and I did what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “The rest is kind of out of my power. I was hoping that she was going to land it for her because she's been charging and just doing so well over the last few years, and it's so nice to see her put it down when it counts.”
There were no conflicting emotions, Anderson said, adding that she was “pretty at peace with whatever.” Gasser scored a 96.00 on her final run, which bumped her combined score about eight points above Anderson’s total.
With the silver medal, Anderson became one of just three U.S. snowboarders to ever earn three Olympic medals. She joins elite company — Shaun White and Kelly Clark.
“Oh, that's freaking awesome,” Anderson, who seemed surprised to hear of that accomplishment after the competition. “That's crazy to me. It's all pretty surreal. Just being able to be an Olympian is such a treat, but to come here and win medals is, wow, next level.”
Team USA had two other athletes in the final — Julia Marino and Jessika Jenson — but neither hit two runs to give them a shot at medaling. Marino finished in 10th and Jenson placed 11th. Because of how two rough runs can knock you out of contention, Anderson said precision is critical in this new event that made its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
“All the girls are so gangster,” Anderson said. “Any girl in that final could have won a medal today.”
After competing through windy conditions in the slopestyle, these snowboarders had nice weather for big air, helped by how the event was moved up a day to avoid expected wind on Friday.
“For all the girls, it was such a good show,” Gasser said. “After slopestyle, I think everyone needed this today. Everyone wanted to show their best tricks, and today was one of the highest levels in girls’ snowboarding I've ever seen.”
Four years ago, Anderson won the slopestyle competition in its debut at the Sochi Games. Anderson, who won a gold medal in slopestyle earlier in these Games, has now medaled in all three Olympic events in which she has competed. And even after coming up a bit short of the ultimate finish on Thursday, she’s content.
“[In snowboarding] you see all the athletes from all over the world are really friends and stoked for each other,” Anderson said. “That's what it's all about — unity, good vibes.”
Emily Giambalvo 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.