Jamie Anderson competes in the women’s slopestyle snowboarding qualification at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Feb. 6, 2014 in Sochi, Russia
SOCHI, Russia – The Opening Ceremony isn’t scheduled until Friday, but competition is officially underway in Sochi following the men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding qualifying runs on Thursday at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
The U.S. saw all seven members from its slopestyle snowboarding team advance past the opening round – including four from the women’s team. Jamie Anderson and Karly Shorr automatically qualified for the women’s slopestyle final, while Jessika Jenson and Ty Walker advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.
Anderson, a native of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., scored a 93.50 on her first run, which was second only to Austria’s Anna Gasser, who scored a 95.50. Anderson did not start a second run, but her sheer jumping ability in the first run was enough to even take her by surprise.
"I can't believe I landed them,” Anderson said. “I went a little too big. I just wanted to land a run and take the pressure off."
While Anderson wasn’t under any pressure for her second run, that certainly wasn’t the case for Shorr. The Michigan native had to improve on a mistake-riddled first run if she wanted to surpass Sarka Panchocova of the Czech Republic, who set the fourth-place baseline with a score of 77.75. Shorr thrived under pressure and posted an 84.75 – good enough to finish fourth in her heat and automatically qualify for Sunday’s final.
“I definitely think I need to repeat a lot of what I did today,” Shorr said when asked about her outlook for Sunday. “Hopefully I can get into the course a little bit more and work on my rail section, and maybe get a little more tech up top.”
The final athlete to run, Jenson garnered a 58.50 to earn a spot in the semifinal round.
“I was a little bummed that I couldn’t put down the run that I wanted,” Jenson said. “I’m just going to move forward, look forward to semis and look at it as more practice.”
Joining Jenson in the semifinals will be Ty Walker, who at age 16 was the youngest U.S. athlete to compete today. Despite dealing with multiple injuries, she, too, advanced to the semifinals.
Joining Anderson and Shorr in the final are Austria’s Gasser, Elena Koenz and Isabel Derungs of Switzerland, Australia’s Torah Bright, Canada’s Spencer O’Brien and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi, who all automatically qualified after their top placements Thursday.
Three U.S. men – Sage Kotsenburg (86.50), Chas Guldemond (86.00) and Ryan Stassel (81.00) – are among the 21 athletes to advance to the semifinals . That competition will be Saturday, with four finalist spots up for grabs.
Kotsenburg, known as “Second-run Sage” for his improvement on his second runs, didn’t have the strong second performance he was hoping for Thursday. He hopes that he can take advantage of a second chance Saturday.
“We’re going to go to Opening Ceremony tomorrow night, and that will rejuvenate me a little bit,” Kotsenburg said. “I’ll get into the vibe of Opening Ceremony and come back even stronger on Saturday.”
Also advancing to the men’s semifinals are Canada’s Mark McMorris, Belgium’s Seppe Smits and Austria’s Clemens Schattschneider.
Headlining the men’s final is Canada’s Max Parrot, who was the only athlete to score more than 90 points on each qualifying run. Parrot will be joined in the final by fellow Canadian Sebastien Toutant, Finland’s Roope Tonteri, Sweden’s Sven Thorgren and Peetu Piiroinen, Norway’s Gjermund Braaten and Staale Sandbech, and Great Britain’s Jamie Nicholls.