GOLD! Lake Tahoe-area athlete picks up a gold medal at Sochi Olympics
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – An American flag still draped around her shoulders, Jamie Anderson lifted up her race bib, the one she wore as she won the first-ever women's slopestyle gold medal, and unzipped her snow parka to pull at the layers of beads and necklaces that hung around her neck.
"These are my mantra beads," she said.
Yes, America's newest star at the Sochi Games is a self-confessed, proud California hippie, who spent the night before perhaps the biggest rides of her life doing yoga, burning sage and journaling in her Olympic Village dorm room.
Anderson, a 22-year-old native of South Lake Tahoe, has long been the most dominant female slopestyle racer in the world, racking up world cup titles and X Games medals. That resume made her the heavy gold medal favorite here in Sochi, and that pressure weighed on her.
That's where the mantras and the meditation have helped. After hand-checking on her opening run, she knew she needed a perfect second run to win gold. One coach, Mike Jankowski, reminded her to smile. At the top of the course, another coach, Bill Enos, watched Anderson relax after closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.
"She just really this great flow about her. All of her meditation, finding her center, stuff I know nothing about. I'm just up or down, like my golf swing. But she just finds it," Enos said. "She found it at the top of that run, the pressure was on – and that was a lot of pressure. You see everything release from her body, and she just goes."
Anderson, like Sage Kotsenberg did a day earlier to win gold in the men's slopestyle final, didn't throw the biggest, most athletic tricks. She just displayed the most style of rider on the course in that second run, combining a mix of smooth slides on the rail section at the top of the course, technical hand grabs on her board off the jumps and clean landings on her jumps. Her winning run included two 720s, and received a score of 95.25. Finald's Enni Rukajarvi won silver, and Great Britain's Jenny Jones won bronze – the first on-snow medal ever for an English athlete.
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