words: Pat Bridges
photos: Ryan “Huggy” Hughes and Mark Imanuel

With the advent of women's slopestyle in the upcoming Olympics, the depth of talent on display within the female side of the this event grows with each heat. On Friday December 13th, 2013 the American Olympic qualifying process officially commenced with the 2013 Women's Slopestyle Finals at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. While past Dew Tour stops have been independent showdowns, the recent partnership with the USSA has made the slopestyle contest circuit’s traditional early season kickoff in Colorado an even weightier affair.

Laid out before the eight female finalists was a compact course that began with a variety of jibs, including a side-by-side trio of obstacles with an up-down bar, a flat bar and a down-flat-down, followed by a riders left fall-line wallride, gap to half rainbow rail, and gap to flat down bar. Next came a fifty-foot dished deck tabletop, right into another slight step-over measuring at fifty-five feet. Two side-by-side gap to wooden launches, as well as an up-down slider, and a one-and-a-half story tall rainbow rail broke up the two dual jump zones with another fifty-foot table, until the course culminated with a significant booter sending riders launching over the fifty-five foot long deck.

With a long day of Men's Slopestyle Qualifiers preceding the Women's Finals, the sun had been given an ample opportunity to begin its descent over the horizon, inviting slight winds to incite even more difficulty for the riders who were already dealing with untimely shadows and a glossy venue. The challenging conditions wreaked havoc with the favorites in the early running, allowing for some new names to emerge from later in the draw to podium positions.

Twenty-two year old Jessica Jensen who hails from Rigby, Idaho emerged from the first round of the two-run Finals with the cleanest line, allowing her to maintain the lead well into the second run starting order. Zurich, Switzerland's Isabel Derungs unleashed her textbook backside rodeo and linked a clean line throughout the rest of the course to usurp Jensen for the top spot. Following Derungs’ lead by finding redemption late in the eleventh hour was the rest of the top qualifiers who were later in the start order. One-by-one the ladies strapped in, stomped and one-upped the rider before, creating an escalating drama with each drop. Showing particular prowess in the jib section of her second run was Kongsberg, Norway's Silje Norendal whose subtle switch-stance technicality resonated with the judges allowing her to bump Derungs down from the top of the podium. Fellow Scandinavian, Enni Rukajarvi followed Silje out of the start and began her run as the lone girl to execute the backside wallride. From there, Rukajarvi linked a backside 540 with a switch-stance frontside 540. While she held a conservative line through the mid-course jib zone, Enni followed up a smooth frontside 360 with a gnarly backside 720 well into the landing of the last feature. According to the twenty-three year old Finnish regular footer, "it was a challenging Final, but I was really stoked on my run and it was really exciting to land the backside 720 in competition, which is a new trick for me. I'm also stoked on how well everyone else rode considering the conditions."

After an uncharacteristic fall on her first lap, South Lake Tahoe's Jamie Anderson appeared to have been in peak form for her final performance of the event. Jamie displayed no shortage of style in the top section and held nothing back on her first air which was a flawless cab 720 followed by a textbook switch backside five. From there it was business as usual as Jamie once again showed her ability to rise above the field and dominate with a shifty-rewind frontside three on the second to last tabletop leading into a super-sized backside five to seal the deal. “When the sun went down, it got a little fast,” said Anderson, continuing on to acknowledge the resilience of all the competitors. “Everyone was sending it. Stoked I put down a good run and had fun.”

The ability of the ladies to overcome the conditions and still perform at the top of their game is one more facet of the accelerated pace of women's slopestyle progression. With several more showdowns to come between now and the start of the Sochi Olympics, expect these Women's Slopestyle Finalists to keep digging deep to earn every edge and the tricks on top to become ever more agro as the medal chase continues to gain momentum.

This latest result gives Anderson an early edge over the other women vying to make the American Olympic Women's Slopestyle Team with Jessica Jenson and Jordie Karlinski being the other two team USA contenders achieving solid finishes today.

Women’s Slopestyle Finals Results
First – Jamie Anderson
Second – Enni Rukajarvi
Third – Silje Norendal