Spencer O’Brien — with a gold medal from the 2016 X Games — placed ninth in big air Thursday at the Winter Olympics. Photo by Eddie Perlas / ESPN Images

O’Brien ninth in big air

Courtenay-raised snowboarder happy to make finals

Courtenay-raised Spencer O’Brien finished ninth in women’s big air snowboarding, which made its Olympic debut Thursday at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.

She scored a combined 113.25 points over three runs in the final.

Big Air was the second event of the Games for the 30-year-old snowboarder, who was born in Alert Bay. Last week, she placed 22nd in the controversial slopestyle competition that was marred by gusting winds.

“It’s pretty disappointing I couldn’t put out my best, but that’s kind of what I had today and that’s how it goes,” O’Brien said in a prepared statement. “As athletes, we always want to do our best, and when you don’t do your best you don’t feel proud of it. But I was happy to have made the finals and do a few jumps.”

O’Brien has been an advocate for the inclusion of women’s snowboarding in the Olympics. This is her second Winter Games. She placed 12th at Sochi in 2014, before which she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In 2012, she was world slopestyle champion.

“I’m just really excited about the level of riding here today,” O’Brien said. “It’s incredible, and all the girls are throwing it down. I’ve had a long career and I feel really lucky to have been able to compete competitively for this long, and it feels really good to have seen the inclusion of both slopestyle and big air into the Olympics. I’m just so proud of these women and where we’ve taken it.”

Anna Gasser of Austria won the big air gold medal.

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