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'We can die': Snowboarders furious about dangerously windy final

Brisbane Times logo Brisbane Times 13/02/2018 Warwick Green

Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas described it as ''a shitshow''. Norway's Silje Norendal suggested ''in our event we can die'', and even American gold medallist Jamie Anderson conceded it was ''super unfortunate''.

The women’s snowboard slopestyle final was so marred by high winds that it became farcical, with 41 of the 50 runs resulting in snowboarders ending up on their backside. Many competitors felt they were sacrificial lambs at the hands of organisers, who were desperate for some decent action, given that Monday's schedule had already lost the women’s giant slalom - postponed due to dangerous winds.

Sunday’s slopestyle qualifying run had already been canceled due to similiar crosswinds, forcing competitors into a two-run final.

Gold medallist Jamie Anderson © AAP Gold medallist Jamie Anderson Anderson won gold with what would, under normal circumstances, be considered an umnimpressive run (with a score that would have placed her sixth at Sochi in 2014). Canada's Laurie Blouin took silver and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi bronze.

Norendal, who came in fourth, said that before her turn: "All I wanted to do was sit up the top and cry''.

Another American, Hailey Langland, said: “I think everyone’s just really happy that no one got seriously hurt".

Fierce winds whip across Phoenix Snow Park. © AAP Fierce winds whip across Phoenix Snow Park. Canadian Spencer O’Brien said she couldn't fathom why the snowboarders were made to compete “because no one wanted to go”.

Fierce winds whipped tiny ice pellets across the jumps at the Phoenix Snow Park and the stands were half empty as fans opted not to brave wind chill that dipped to minus-15 degrees and below.

FIS, the international ski federation that oversees both giant slalom and slopestyle, was responsible for the decisions about postponing events, decided to press on with the event that actually involved Olympians flying high into the sky, despite fierce complaints from riders and coaches.

Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan crashes during the women's slopestyle final . © AP Miyabi Onitsuka of Japan crashes during the women's slopestyle final . Pre-event favourite Anna Gasser of Austria fell on both her runs. “Yes, it should have been postponed,“ she said. “We tried to speak to officials but the Olympics put us under pressure to do it today.

“It’s a little funny that they can move the downhill five days and they pressure us into riding in these conditions.”

FIS released a statement after the event: “The first priority for FIS is the safety of the athletes and FIS would never stage a competition if this could not be assured. The FIS Jury monitored the weather conditions closely throughout the day, including consulting with the coaches, and considered it was within the boundaries to stage the competition safely.”

Gasser said the final had given snowboarding, regarded by some as a poor cousin at the Winter Olympics, a black eye.

"I think today made us look way worse than we are," she said.

Pictures: The best images from the 2018 Winter Olympics

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