Freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics is near an end, but it’s not going out quietly. The inaugural women’s halfpipe competition was one of the most exciting events at Sochi thus far, and it is hard to fathom how organizers had left it off the slate for so long.
Jason Stahl of NBC Olympics tweeted out the list of podium finishers on Thursday:
Maddie Bowman of the United States wowed the judges with a brilliant run and went on to win the first gold medal of this thrilling event. She was undoubtedly the best of the 12 participants that advanced through qualifiers, giving her all in her second run of the finals.
Marie Martinod of France wasn’t able to top her qualifying score of 88.40, earning silver after earning a score of 85.40 from the judges in the finals. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka claimed bronze with a respectable 83.20 on her second run.
Let’s take a look at how every competitor scored during the final round of the halfpipe event, recap the top performances and highlight what’s next for fans of the sport.
Bowman, one of the American favorites going into this event, lived up to expectations by topping the podium.
Skyler Wilder of NBC Olympics was blown away by Bowman’s closing performance:
The 20-year-old star should be back in 2018 and clearly enjoys her sport, telling Maddie Oatman of Mother Jones:
I think we want people to see that side of us—just being kids goofing off. That's what we do. That's why we love what we do. That's how we've gotten so far in skiing.
Perhaps most impressively, Bowman—a back-to-back defending X Games champion in this event—is just two months removed from double knee surgery. She clearly made a complete recovery and gave her top performance during her final run of the Sochi Games.
Martinod proved that she is still one of the top ski halfpipe performers in the world, even though she once retired from competitive skiing back in 2006 to raise her daughter.
Onozuka was a steady performer throughout qualifiers and into the finals, earning an 83.80 to make the top 12 then nailing a great routine for an 83.20 to snag the bronze.
Team USA’s other stars weren’t as impressive in the medal round as they were in qualifiers. Brita Sigourney, who finished in second place leading up to the finals, would never recover from a tough fall on her first run and came in sixth.
She tweeted shortly after the qualifiers that she was looking forward to the finals.
Welp that was fun! Now let's do it again!!!— Brita Sigourney (@britasig) February 20, 2014
Unfortunately for U.S. fans, she did not replicate her early successes during the medal round.
Angeli VanLaanen also let the pressure get to her, faltering on both her final runs and coming in 11th. However, it’s remarkable that the American was even able to get this far, as she was out of competition for three years while battling Lyme disease.
Annalisa Drew came in ninth after earning a 66.40, but she did land the only 1080 trick of the competition.
There is only one more freestyle skiing competition left before the end of the Winter Games. That would be women's ski cross, which takes place on Friday throughout the day.
Starting at 2:45 a.m. ET, fans can tune in to watch these women attempt to qualify. After five rounds, the field will be whittled down to a final few that have proven worthy of competing for the gold in Sochi. That run is scheduled to start at 5:41 a.m. ET.
The United States does not have any competitors in the event, but American fans of the sport in general should still tune in to catch the athletes competing in a thrilling sport that will mark the end of the discipline in Sochi.
As for the freestyle halfpipe, the event's future is certainly bright. With a plethora of young, talented stars, ranging from gold medalist Bowman to Annalisa Drew, the field figures to remain competitive at the World Championships and beyond.
Bowman in particular, at just 19, has a long career ahead of her, and given her success on the sport's biggest stage so early, it's hard to see her failing to be successful in the future.