Sunday morning's snowboard slopestyle course was a less-than-welcoming sight to the dozen women who showed up ready to ride through semifinals for a shot at the medal event following just 90 minutes later. The snow was icy, hard, and made all the more difficult to negotiate with flat light, which impairs a rider's ability to spot landings and gauge speed when approaching features.
The conditions negatively impacted all of the women's runs to greater or lesser degrees, and as the second set of attempts began, the two American women who did not automatically qualify Thursday for Sunday's final—Ty Walker and Jessika Jenson—found themselves shut out of the main event. Despite both women's solid tries at backside 720s on the last jump, neither could pull them off, and, predictably, it was a 7s game in this event.
Walker, who had sustained bruising on her knee, heel, and leg in practice this week, gave a sound performance despite her compromised ability and decision to essentially use her qualifying runs Thursday as rest for the semis. Her Cab 540s off the second jump were consistent and clean, though not quite enough to set her up successfully for her 7.
Sarka Pancochova (CZE), Sina Candrian (SUI), Jenny Jones (GBR), and Silje Norendal (NOR) were the last women standing Sunday morning. Pancochova narrowly missed automatically qualifying on Thursday; while she was regarded as having put down a technically impressive run, her choice to use the smaller side of the jump line hurt her scores. She redeemed herself with the highest rank in the semis, however, and advanced with a 90.50. Candrian distinguished herself with massive air off all the jumps, while Jones—the oldest rider of the semis field at age 33—kept Great Britain in the game with her frontside 720.
Fellow Brit Aimee Fuller looked a contender with her no-holds-barred attempts at a double backflip on the second kicker in both of her runs, but ultimately couldn't put them away cleanly and missed the top four.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>So apparently <a href=”https://twitter.com/aimee_fuller”>@aimee_fuller</a> told the freeski girls she was "just gonna go for it" this morning. Hence the double backie straight up.</p>— Whitelines (@whitelinesmag) <a href=”https://twitter.com/whitelinesmag/statuses/432411673056800768″>February 9, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Of special note was Shelly Gotlieb's shot at a 900—a trick not commonly seen in contest runs by the women. The New Zealand native scrubbed the landing, but her effort just shows what might be in store when it comes down to the best of the best in the final round.
Previous medal contender Cheryl Maas (NED) had a disappointing wreck at the top of the rail course in her second run, knocking her out of contention, while Kjersti Buaas (NOR), who took a horrific slam in qualifiers, Merika Enne (FIN), who had suffered a concussion in practice earlier in the week, and Christy Prior (NZL) did not start, citing injury.
The women's snowboard slopestyle finals, the second snowboarding medal event in the 2014 Winter Games, begin at 1:15 p.m. Sochi time. Find out where to watch onnbcolympics.com.
WHO ADVANCED: SEMIFINALS
Sarka Pancochova (CZE)
Sina Candrian (SUI)
Jenny Jones (GBR)
Silje Norendal (NOR)
PRE-QUALIFIED FINALS RIDERS
Isabel Derungs (SUI)
Torah Bright (AUS)
Spencer O'Brien (CAN)
Enni Rukajarvi (FIN
Anna Gasser (AUT
Jamie Anderson (USA
Elena Koenz (SUI
Karly Shorr (USA)
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