Surely, somewhere, Sarah Burke is proud. She didn’t live to see it, but her sport made its Olympic debut with aplomb. The USA’s Maddie Bowman may have been overlooked while all this happened because figure skating and women’s hockey were going on, but watch for her on NBC tonight.
Sport: Freestyle skiing
Event: Women’s halfpipe
Medalists: Maddie Bowman (USA), Marie Martinod (France), Ayana Onozuka (Japan)
SportsMyriad projections: Virginie Faivre (Switzerland), Roz Groenewoud (Canada), Maddie Bowman (USA)
How U.S. fared: Annalisa Drew was first up for the Americans and landed a 1080, not a common trick here. Yet she only got a 66.40, seventh after the first run.
Angeli VanLaanen was in the middle of a good first run but falling. Brita Sigourney was going even bigger when she slipped on her backside, recovered, did another trick and tumbled badly to the center of the pipe. After a few seconds, the medical crew raced out, as did teammate Maddie Bowman. But Sigourney got to her feet and went to the finish under her own power.
Bowman was simply the class of the first run, landing back-to-back 900s. She took the lead with 85.80 points.
In her second run, Drew tried to go even bigger with a 1260, but her skis smacked the lip of the pipe on her landing, and she fell. She smiled and whistled as her scores were read.
VanLaanen had some copious bandages on her nose at the start of her second run. She put together some nifty tricks and was building up to something big but slipped about midway through.
Bowman was assured at least a bronze when she took her second run, but she still went for it, bumping her score up to 89-flat.
Sigourney, badly banged up in her first run, took her time before dropping in for the second. She got the 900 on her second trick but slipped on her backside in nearly the same spot as her first run. Rather than repeat the rest of the painful opener, she pulled up a bit and finished with some conservative elements before embracing her friends at the bottom. A solid 76.00 got her sixth place.
What happened: After Drew, who skied early in the first run, the next four were rather conservative, getting about as much air out of the pipe as I get when I dunk on an 8-foot basketball hoop. A couple of scores were in the 70s somehow.
The North Americans kicked things up a notch. VanLaanen and Canada’s Roz Groenewoud went big but crashed. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka raised the bar with a big run for 79.00 points and the lead. Then came Bowman with the 85.80, Sigourney with the nasty crash, and France’s Marie Martinod with a sensational 84.80.
Again, the first few skiers were nothing spectacular in the second run. Swiss favorite Virginie Faivre, coming back from a back injury, was solid but gained little air.
Groenewoud went big with a 900 but landed far down in the pipe, losing momentum. She ended with 74.20.
Onozuka exulted when she finished a clean run with a 720 thrown in. She improved to 83.20, still in third place but setting a more difficult task for Sigourney, the only person who could bump her from the podium.
After Bowman and Sigourney, Martinod was the closer. Silver was assured, but could she bump Bowman off the top spot? She had some solid tricks through the program and closed with a 900. The score: 85.40. Slightly better than her first run, not enough to beat Bowman. No one seemed to care — everyone was thrilled. Martinod had retired to raise her daughter but came back to make a run at the Games, and it paid off.