The elephant on the slopes: Putting female snowboarders at risk

On Monday night, the world watched as 4 out of 5 female snowboarders in the Olympic slopestyle competition — fierce athletes who had spent the last four years perfecting daring new jumps to advance their sport — crashed to the ground amidst dangerous 30 mph winds in Pyeongchang. Athletes, commentators and fans alike were understandably horrified. And questions began to swirl as to why organizers chose not to postpone the event due to the vicious weather conditions, as they had just done with the women’s Alpine skiing giant slalom.

Seventeen-year-old Australian rider Tess Coady tore her ACL, when she “got picked up by the wind,” as she put it. And Austrian Anna Gasser, who finished 15th, called the competition “a lottery,” voicing her disappointment in the International Ski Federation for allowing it to go on.

“I don’t think it was a fair competition and I’m a little disappointed in the organization that they pulled through with it,” she said, according to the AFP news agency. “From my point of view I think it was not a good show for women’s snowboarding.”

Tellingly, neither did American Jamie Anderson, who took home the gold.

Jamie Anderson of USA takes 1st place during the Snowboarding Women’s Slopestyle Finals at Pheonix Snow Park on Feb. 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

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“I’m not extremely proud of my run,” the two-time gold medalist told USA Today following her win. A “back 5, cab 5, front 7 is pretty mellow. That would barely get into finals in some events, but considering the conditions and everything, I feel pretty good.”

After winning gold in Sochi with two 720s and spending the last four years working to master more daring, inverted tricks like 900s, 1080s and double corks, the seasoned rider made the crucial decision to “dumb down” the routine she had planned in order…

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