The world’s best female slopestyle riders just can’t get a break. After high winds cancelled their Olympic qualifier and turned the final into a farce, something similar has gone down at the Burton US Open.
Based on the treacherous conditions in Vail, the judges gave the finalists two options: keep practicing for a truncated two-run final (as opposed to the usual three), or call it. The decision was unanimous, apparently, and that was all she wrote for the women's slopestyle at the 2018 Open.
“I’m glad we made this decision, because I wanted the girls to show their best" - Klaudia Medlova
As a result, Jamie Anderson takes the title, after posting the highest score in qualifying on Wednesday. It’s not a result anyone will complain about; perhaps rivals such as defending champion Anna Gasser may have bested her in the final, but no-one could beat Jamie’s semi-final score even as she stayed well down the gears.
“I’m glad we made this decision, because I wanted the girls to show their best" said Klaudia Medlova, who takes 5th place. She’s got a point; on the massive stage that was the Olympics, the gale-plagued women’s slopestyle final grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons. More of the same wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest, least of all the riders.
It sparked a debate about how much of a say the riders should get when the conditions are causing problems - for example, here's Spencer O'Brien's take. Clearly in this case, the powers that be were happy to let the riders make the final call. Admittedly it’s a lot easier to do this at a standalone snowboarding contest rather than a multi-sport mash-up like the five rings, but we’re hoping that contest organisers everywhere are taking note of this one.
The men’s final is going ahead, as the conditions have improved, so Mark McMorris will have to put the work in to stay on top of the field. As for the ladies, sadly they don’t have any more high-profile slopestyle events lined up for this winter. During the summer months, we’re recommending a regular program of animal sacrifices to appease the fickle wind gods.