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By Zach Cavanagh

Hailey Langland. Photo: Team USA

Hailey Langland, the 21-year-old Olympic snowboarder from San Clemente, ran into trouble in the women’s snowboard slopestyle final in the Beijing Games on Sunday morning, Feb. 6, at Genting Snow Park in China.

Langland fell on the first jump of her first and third runs and couldn’t cleanly land her final jump of the second run, as the American finished 11th of 12 riders in the medal round. Despite Langland’s falls and the fall of two-time gold medalist Jamie Anderson, Team USA did not go home empty-handed, as Julia Marino captured silver with a stellar second run – the first American medal of the Games.

“I’m incredibly grateful for where women’s snowboard slopestyle is today,” Langland said on Instagram. “Even though I couldn’t put a run down, the tears I had were out of joy for the progression, and pure camaraderie that we have for each other.”

This is Langland’s second Winter Olympics. As a 17-year-old, Langland finished sixth in the women’s slopestyle final at the 2018 PyeongChang Games in South Korea.

Langland, Anderson, Marino and fellow American Courtney Rummel, who did not qualify for the final, are not done at these Olympics. All slopestyle riders are also entered into the big air event, which will run the morning of Feb. 14 in Beijing. The big air final runs the morning of Feb. 15.

There is a 16-hour time difference between the West Coast and Beijing, so the big air events will be broadcast in the United States at 5:30 p.m. PST on Feb. 13-14.

Throughout both days of the competition, Langland struggled on the same jump in the frigid conditions at the Genting Snow Park. The temperature was minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit at the start of the final.

Slopestyle is run on a downhill course that incorporates multiple elements on which riders can perform tricks off of to score points with the judges. These elements include rails on the upper portion of the course and three ramps of different styles on the lower portion.

On all three final runs, Langland went cleanly through the rails. However, just as in qualifying, Langland incurred falls coming off the first jump on her first and third runs. The first ramps were nicknamed the “twisted sisters” as they are twin ramps that twist toward each other. Eventual silver medalist Marino and Anderson also fell on their first and third runs, with both incurring falls on the same opening jump.

All three Americans in the final had their successes on the second run, but Langland still did not get through clean.

On the second run, Langland nailed a frontside 720 off the first jump and followed up with a backside 540 off “The Matrix” second jump, which is a ramp made up of multiple ramps for a variety of launch points. On the final jump, Langland launched into a 900 and landed the trick, but just barely. Langland kicked up snow on the landing, and judges labeled the jump as “sketchy.”

Langland scored a 48.35, which jumped her up to seventh place at the time. It would be Langland’s only score posted for the day, and other finalists leapt over her score to send the American to 11th place.

On Marino’s second run, the Connecticut native hit a 900 on the first jump, a double 900 on the second jump and a solid 1080 on the final jump to move up to first place at the time with a score of 87.68. Marino was only bested by the event favorite on her final run as New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott posted a 92.88. Anderson of South Lake Tahoe finished ninth with a second-run 60.78.

As mentioned, all four of the American slopestyle women now move on to the big air event next week.

This will be only the second time the event has run at the Olympics. Langland, Anderson and Marino all competed in the inaugural run of big air at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Anderson was the highest American finisher with a silver medal performance. Marino finished 10th, and Langland did not qualify for the final with a 14th-place finish.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at zcavanagh@picketfencemedia.com.

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