Spencer O'Brien 12th at Olympic slopestyle final
Canadian snowboarder Spencer O’Brien failed to post a clean run on her two attempts in the ladies slopestyle final Sunday morning at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and finished last (12th) in the event.
It was a big disappointment for the 26-year-old Alert Bay native and reigning world champion, who had finished third in qualifying on Thursday to earn a berth straight into Sunday’s finals. American Jamie Anderson won gold with a score of 95.25. Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took silver with 92.50 and Britain's Jenny Jones earned bronze with 87.25.
O'Brien, who competed for Mark Isfeld and calls Courtenay her hometown, was a podium favourite entering the final and hoped to build on the Canadian team's momentum after Mark McMorris won bronze a day earlier in the men's event.
O'Brien, 26, did well on the rail section but came up short on her backside 720 jumps — where she spins around two times in the air — and wasn't able to do the frontside 720 jump she had planned.
She had just 30 points in her first run and finished with a score of 35 from her second run. O'Brien had entered the Games on a high after a bronze-medal performance last month at the X Games.
O'Brien appeared to lose her balance and leaned back on the snow midway through her first run before slipping out again on her second run. She cut both runs short and took a slow ride down the side of the course instead of showing the high-flying spins and tricks she had planned.
"Sorry I'm just really disappointed right now," she told reporters after her second run as tears rolled down her cheeks. "I had a really hard year coming back from some injuries. I was really happy to be riding the way I was here. I was just really excited to be a part of Team Canada. Just after watching Mark yesterday, I was really inspired to just try really hard to bring home a medal.
"I went for my hardest run and it didn't work out today. So I'm really disappointed and really sad that I let Canada down."
While O’Brien was disappointed, Canadian sports fans were quick to take to Twitter and let her know her country was solidly behind her.
“You didn’t let anyone down today. You inspired thousands of Canadian girls (and me) to ride hard. Thank you for going for it!” said Adam van Koeverden.
“Hey, hey! No tears. You did Canada proud just being there. Takes guys to do what you do. Enjoy the Olympic experience. Hug.” And “Canadians are proud of you. Head high! You are part of history,” were common themes in many tweets.
O’Brien, who now skis out of Whistler, tried to look at the positives after the race. She was happy for the medallists and pleased that she could take part in slopestyle's Olympic debut.
"You know right now I'm so disappointed," she said. "But I know looking back this whole experience has been so incredible,” she told reporters. “It's going to be one of the biggest days of my life, being part of making history for snowboarding."