ROSA KHUTOR, Russia — Maddie Bowman called on a lifetime of experience on skis to quell her jitters and dominate the inaugural women’s freestyle halfpipe event at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Thursday.
The American, who first strapped on a pair of skis at the age of two, continued her fairytale season as she added the Olympic title to the X Games gold she won in January.
“I was a little jittery before my first run. It’s a big stage, but I felt the same way at X Games, so I knew that I would probably handle it,” a beaming Bowman told reporters.
“After getting that first run down, it takes a lot of pressure off and then you can really just go for it and I was happy that it worked out.”
Her nose ring shining under the floodlights, Bowman looked back over two runs that, although not perfect, were unmatched on the night for their ambition and execution.
In perfect conditions, her first run in the final featured two spins through 900 degrees, first left, then right to immediately take control of the contest.
“I was happy that I laid down my run,” added the 20-year-old. “I didn’t know what the judges were going to do with it, but I didn’t care. I was happy to land two runs at the Olympics, that was cool.”
Already a two-time X Games champion, Bowman added the Olympic title with seeming ease on a night when Sarah Burke, the Canadian freestyle pioneer who convinced the IOC to give the sport a chance, was to the fore.
Many of the competitors chose to remember Burke, who died in a training accident in January 2012, by making a heart with their fingers for the cameras as they waited for their scores.
“Sarah’s inspired us, on snow and off snow and I think she would have been very proud of how all the girls rode tonight,” Bowman told a news conference.
“I sure hope that I and everyone else made her proud, because we would not be here without her.”
Asked to explain her success this season, Bowman resorted to the mantra of the modern sportsperson with a little free ski twist.
“The way I’ve gotten here is by taking it one day and one competition at a time, and by having absolutely as much fun as I can,” she said. “And hey, it worked out!”