KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Jamie Anderson stood at the top of the slopestyle course, her boots strapped to her snowboard and opportunity at her feet. She had won more of slopestyle’s big competitions than any woman in history, but now the event was in the Olympics, and she had one run to capture the gold medal everyone expected her to win.
“I was freaking out,” Anderson said later.
Around her neck, under her jacket, she wore strings of mantra beads, from a yoga teacher in Breckenridge, Colo., that Anderson said gave “sacred energy.” There was “power stone” and “moon stone” of clear quartz. In her ears, she had the Nas song “I Can” playing.
“I know I can,” the song begins, to a head-bobbing beat, “be what I want to be.”
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She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She imagined her run, felt the landings, saw her family and her “spirit grandma” — a neighbor from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. — cheering at the bottom, nearly half a mile and 45 seconds away. And then she went there.
Anderson won the gold medal, a case of the biggest prize going to the event’s biggest star. She capped an American sweep of the inaugural Olympic slopestyle events, after Sage Kotsenburg had won the men’s event a day earlier.
“I was really just trying to stay calm and kind of preserve my energy,” Anderson said later, her shoulders wrapped in the American flag and a smile draping her face. “There was a lot of stress up there. Even though it’s just another competition, the stage and the outreach that this event connects to across the whole world, is out of control. All of us just wanted to do our best. I was so happy and thankful to put down a run.”
Anderson’s winning run included a pair of 720s, or two rotations, done with grace. A couple of competitors performed more spins, including Sina Candrian of Switzerland, who landed the first 1080 by a woman in competition. But she finished fourth.
It was an echo of the day before, when Kotsenburg’s smooth, stylish performance beat more acrobatic routines.
Anderson’s run contained plenty of difficulty. And when she saw a few others attempt bigger, but not necessarily more eye-pleasing tricks, she pondered her own run.
“It crossed my mind,” she said. “But at the end of the day I wanted to do something I could do perfect.”
Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi won the silver medal. Jenny Jones won bronze, becoming the first British Winter Olympian to earn a medal in a snow event.
But it was Anderson, 23, popular for her radiant personality and earthy manner, who placed atop her sport again. She closed her eyes. She took a couple of deep breaths. The beads did their work. Nas did his. Then Anderson did hers. It was all just as she imagined.