Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) – Vicious winds caused a string of crashes as America’s Jamie Anderson survived the chaos to clinch her second straight slopestyle snowboarding Olympic gold in treacherous conditions on Monday.
Nearly all the athletes — including Anderson — tumbled at some point at Pyeongchang’s Phoenix Park, where strong winds forced Sunday’s qualifiers to be scrapped and also delayed the final for more than an hour on Monday.
The numerous falls — though none of the athletes appeared to have been badly hurt — raised the question as to whether the event in Pyeongchang should have gone ahead.
Anderson, 27, became the first woman to win two Olympic snowboarding golds despite briefly falling in her final run, with Laurie Blouin of Canada earning silver and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi taking bronze.
Britain’s Aimee Fuller, who finished down in 17th after crashing, called it some of the toughest conditions she had competed in and said she had “no chance” of landing her last jump when she was caught by one strong gust.
“Conditions today were definitely a challenge. It was for sure not what I wanted, not what I expected, not what I dreamed of for my Olympic final,” said the 26-year-old, who was unhurt in the fall.
“There were huge gusts of wind — I’ve decided to call it the Pyeongchang Gust.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t the best day for our sport. Some people got lucky — and I didn’t.”
In the build-up, Britain’s Katie Ormerod and Australian Tess Coady both suffered competition-ending injuries on the slopestyle course, which features high rails and huge jumps to negotiate in the swirling winds.
When the delayed competition finally got under way, a number of athletes hit the deck before Anderson, Blouin — who sported a black eye — and Rukajarvi filled the podium.
It came a day after 17-year-old Coady, the youngest member of the Australian team in South Korea, was forced out after wrecking her left knee in training.
Coady ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), ending her first taste of an Olympics and leaving her facing several months on the sidelines.
The young Australian blamed the wind for the crash, writing on Instagram: “Well Olympics came to a screeching halt today for me… got picked up in the wind on the bottom jump in practice and my ACL was not a big fan!”
Ormerod was sidelined after breaking her heel in training — after earlier fracturing her wrist on the Pyeongchang course.