An audacious last-jump gamble paid off as Austria’s Anna Gasser took gold in the inaugural Winter Olympic Games women’s big air competition at the Alpensia ski jumping arena on Thursday 22 February.
American Jamie Anderson held the lead throughout the three-jump final at PyeongChang 2018 until Gasser – the last competitor to jump – cleanly landed a cab double cork 1080 to score 96.00, the best jump of any woman in the 12-berth final.
Anderson, who flew under the radar entering the final after qualifying fifth, put her rivals under pressure with her first two of three jumps scoring 90.00 and 87.25. With only the best two jumps counting to the final score, Anderson failed to land her final jump, but held a three-point lead that required something special from Gasser.
Gasser, who finished 15th in the women’s slopestyle final won by Anderson, landed one of the hardest tricks in her repertoire – the same trick that pulled her through the qualification round.
“I was like, 'I really have to step up my game', and I'm so thankful I landed the trick I had in mind and that it was enough to win the gold today," she said.
“That was a little risk I took. I wasn't sure, should I keep it safe, should I just do that trick again and get a better score, or should I risk it? But I watched the girls and everyone was so good, so I was like 'OK, I'm going to try to do this trick' and I was so happy when I landed it.”
Silver medallist Anderson had no regrets about the jumps she chose. "My second medal feels awesome,” she said. “With the level of riding, literally it was a 50-50 per cent chance that I was going to put down my more difficult trick, so I was just so happy to come here and do what I wanted to do.
“We have great conditions and everyone was able to ride their best, so it feels rewarding. It just feels good. The girls are awesome and I'm just happy to be up there with them.”
Winning the bronze medal was 16-year-old New Zealander Zoi Sadowski Synnott, whose second jump scored 92.00 from the judges. She made her Olympic debut earlier in the slopestyle competition, where she finished 13th.