SOCHI 2014 - WOMEN’S SNOWBOARD SLOPESTYLE QUALIFIERS REPORT
The women’s snowboard slopestlye competition has three stages, qualifiers, semi-finals and finals. Today was the qualifiers which had two pools. The top four riders from each pool (8 riders in total) book themselves a place in the final and do not have to go through the semi-final stage. The remainder of the two pools go on to the semi-finals to fight for four remaining places. Slightly strangely there are no eliminations from the qualifiers; all riders in the qualifiers go through to either the semis or the finals.
This event was certainly being played tactically. Some of the riders were content to lay down a solid run and breeze into the semi-finals and not compete for an automatic spot. Even two disastrous runs would not see riders out of the competition, although it could wreck a rider’s confidence going in to the semis or leave them with a lot of practicing to do beforehand.
British all-round nice girl Jenny Jones, kicked off the competition with a solid start and big tricks were left in her pocket for later in favour of “safe” tricks and a clean run with no falls or arm flailing. As the riders from the first qualifier did their first of two it was clear the judges were going to give higher marks for clean, solid stylish performances than for attempting harder trick with more rotations which was not done perfectly. Many of the riders attempting harder tricks had sketchy landings or their arms failing, “winding down the windows” in snowboarding parlance. Further down the order Aimee Fuller couldn’t be happier at being here at Sochi and laid down a respectable first run. There was only one rider with a bigger smile than Aimee’s and that was Australia’s experienced Torah Bright. At the end of the first run of the first qualifier it was Torah who led the field.
In the second run of first qualifier, Jenny Jones once again put down a solid convincing performance on the rail section but unluckily had a wobble on her 180 off the canon and decided to get down safely and settle for the semis rather than risk a bigger fall that might put her out of the competition. Norwegian Kjersti Buass took a massive hit in a big fall on her second run. It took her a long time to get up and an even longer time for anyone to come to her aid. Having got up she was rubbing her hip but it seemed as though she had no serious injuries – we send Kjesti our best wishes and hope to see her back competing in the semi-finals. After this the Q1 field seemed shaken, landings were sketchy and some washed out (where the rider loses the board from beneath their feet and slides on to their bum or back before righting themselves). Despite this Aimee Fuller’s elated smile could not be wiped from her face. Although a wobble in her frontside 180 off the canon knocked her off the rest of her run, it was a joy to watch someone so stoked to be riding at the Olympics. Then Ennis Rukajarvi from Finland hit the knuckle of a landing and was catapulted in to the air. Fortunately she was able to get up and ride away unassisted and she was holding a good score from her first run in this best-run-counts competition. Rebecca “Possum” Torr could be heard laughing and whooping her way down her run bringing fun back to the proceedings. While Swiss Isabel Derungs second run was as clean and beautiful as her first with a stylish backside rodeo performed perfectly in both runs giving her top spot. Torah Bright, riding in halfpipe and boarder cross events as well as the slopestyle, rode a second solid run. Although she went no bigger than a 360 her run oozed style as she kept it simple but beautiful. Sheril Gotlieb was the only rider to tackle the kinked hand rail which was tight-up against the box, giving a rail master class in both runs. And it was looking like a great run as she spun a cab 9 off the giant kickers but unfortunately she couldn’t quite hold it and washed out on the landing – can she pick up her game in the semis?
So in Q1 the automatic entry places in to the final were won by:
1) Isable Derungs SWIZTERLAND 87.50
2) Torah Bright AUSTRALIA 85.25
3) Spencer O’Brian CANADA 82.75
4) Enni Rukajavri FINLAND 79.00
Strangely all four New Zealand riders were in the first qualifier while all four US riders were in the second qualifier. Even more bizarrely, Ty Walker kicked off the first run of the second qualifier by avoiding all of the obstacles and riding to the bottom of the slope without even getting any air. For this she scored one point which seems a bit like getting a point for writing your name correctly on an exam paper. The reason for this is unknown – was it a protest? An injury? In any case, fortunately the other riders in Q2 were not adopting the same strategy. Anna Gasser absolutely stomped her run scoring 89.5, the best score of the day so far. Czech Republic’s Sarka Pancochova looked to have absolutely nailed her first run but it only scored 77.75 from the judges. The standard of the second qualifier definitely seemed to be surpassing the first qualifier. A great first run from Jamie Anderson was so big and so clean it scored a 93.5 from the judges. Only Cheryl Maas 720-ed over the giant Russian matryoshka doll however she slightly washed out a landing messing up her line and was only able to throw a super stylish tourist method off the last roller rather than hitting the big kickers. Despite the awesome 720 Cheryl only received a score of 18.00 for the run. Then a great run for Karly Shorr up-until the last jump where she was out on the landing scoring a disappointing 45. And despite a good rail second Jessica Jenson also fell on her first run.
Tactics of the women’s competition came in to play heavily in the second run of the second qualification pool. Ty Walker didn’t ride, posting a final score of 1 point, but assuming she doesn’t pull out with an injury still going on to the semi-finals. Anna Glasser went huge with a flowing run that was smooth stylish and included a big frontside 720, placing her firmly in first place with a score of 95.50. Norendal Silje the surprise X Games champion fell on her second run so progresses into the semis with a lot to do. In her second run Cheryl Maas still went over the Russian doll but opted for a less rotation, it looked like she was trying to reduce the technicality and get a clean run under her belt, but this strategy didn’t pay off when she unluckily fell, meaning she also has to fight her way through the semis if she is to reach the finals. Both Jamie Anderson, who had banked a score of 93.50 points in her first run, and Merika Enne who scored just 17, opted not to do a second run. And Jessica Jenson was unable to knock anyone out of the top four when she had a number of sketchy landings in her second run.
So in Q2 the automatic entry places in to the final were won by:
1) Anna Glasser AUSTRIA 95.50
2) Jamie Anderson USA 93.50
3) Elena Koenz SWITZERLAND 86.25
4) Karly Shorr USA 84.75
So the remaining riders will go through to the semi-finals to fight it out for the last four places in the finals. As Jenny Jones was the highest point scoring rider in the first qualifier she will be the last to go in the semi-final which should hopefully play to her advantage. GOOD LUCK for the semis JENNY!
Full results can be found at http://www.sochi2014.com/en/snowboard-ladies-sbs-qualification