PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Switzerland’s Sarah Hoefflin is the Olympic champion in women’s slopestyle skiing.
The 27-year-old put together an electric final run down the demanding course at Phoenix Snow Park on Saturday, posting a 91.20 to edge teammate Mathilde Gremaud for gold. Gremaud scored 88.00 on the first of her three runs in the finals but couldn’t top Hoefflin.
Hoefflin is a latecomer to freestyle skiing. She didn’t get serious about the sport until her early 20s when she couldn’t get into medical school after earning a degree in neuroscience.
Isabel Atkin of Britain took bronze with a score of 84.60 in her final run.
Defending Olympic champion Dara Howell crashed twice during qualifying and didn’t advance. American Devin Logan, a silver medalist in Sochi, reached the finals but wasn’t a factor after either crashing or having execution problems in each of her last three runs.
Unlike the women’s snowboarding slopestyle final, where wind wreaked havoc with the field, the issues this time around seemed to simply be the treacherous course. Only nine of the 36 runs in the finals were scored higher than 70, typically a benchmark for a relatively clean trip.
Hoefflin was in position for the silver when she stepped into the gate for her last trip. Rather than try to simply hold on to second, she went for the top spot. She finished with an off-axis 720 degree flip. She raised her arms after sticking the landing before skiing into the arms of her coaches.
Logan, who will compete in the halfpipe competition next week, never really got going on her 24th birthday. She was a middling sixth during qualifying and her best trip during the finals came on her second run, when she appeared to be doing well only to scrape the ground after landing her penultimate jump.