Jamie Anderson kicks off Winter X Games with 18th career podium, wins another slopestyle title
Jamie Anderson can win on pure talent, and she does quite often. But the Tahoe snowboarder threw in some good karma for X Games Aspen 2021 competitions when she and fellow competitor Julia Marino saved a runaway Australian shepherd from along the road earlier this week after practice.
“I thought he was going to be skittish but tried to approach him gently and thankfully he jumped in my arms and came in the car,” Anderson said Friday afternoon. “Turns out he was a 10-year-old who heard an air compressor and kind of panicked and took off running. We got to hang out with him for like a half hour before the owners got there and they were ecstatic. They actually wrote me today and said I have a new No. 1 fan.”
And, whether it was the talent or the karma, all of Anderson’s fans got to watch her win her seventh career Winter X Games gold medal on Friday in the women’s snowboard slopestyle contest, which kicked off Buttermilk’s 20th year as the X Games host. Anderson held off New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Canada’s Laurie Blouin on a fast course.
“On the first jump for me I was going massive,” Blouin said. “But I feel every year the first two jumps are hard to clear. So I’m stoked this year we had more speed. More than enough.”
Blouin and Sadowski-Synnott went back and forth for silver most of the competition, with Sadowski-Synnott crushing her final run to move back into second place for good. Blouin, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, won her third X Games Aspen medal and first bronze. She won silver in slopestyle a year ago. Sadowski-Synnott won Aspen slopestyle gold in 2019 but did not podium last year.
“I’m super stoked to be back here, especially after this whole last year and not being able to compete for so long,” the Kiwi said. “So it’s really special to be back and make it back on the podium.”
The contest certainly belonged to Anderson, however. She was the last to drop in and put down a strong first run and never looked back, controlling the contest from start to finish. It was a jam session format with a running clock that allowed for four runs. Athletes were judged based on “overall impression” and not individual run scores.
Marino, who won the event in 2017, was fourth, followed by Japan’s Kokomo Murase, Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi, Austria’s Anna Gasser and Germany’s Annika Morgan. Morgan was added to the lineup literally minutes before the start of the contest after California’s Hailey Langland, a 2017 X Games gold medalist in big air, was hurt during practice. She appeared to have injured the upper left side of her body and was taken away by sled prior to the competition.
For Anderson, it was her 18th career Winter X Games medal, which ties the legendary Shaun White for second most all time. White is making his X Games return this weekend and will compete in Sunday’s superpipe contest. Canada’s Mark McMorris holds the all-time Winter X Games medal count with 20, which he set last year. McMorris was forced to withdraw from this year’s competition because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Anderson, who is 30, hinted at possibly retiring soon but didn’t seem to know herself when exactly that would be.
“All the girls we get to ride with,” Anderson said of where she draws her inspiration and energy from. “I don’t really know when I’m going to retire. I kind of thought maybe this will be my last year. I don’t know. I think just one day at a time and trying to mix it up. We don’t have a lot of events this year, so I feel I was really happy to be here and wanted to try to ride my best.”
Anderson also is scheduled to compete in Saturday’s women’s snowboard big air contest.
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