Slopestyle has made its way into the Olympics, and with it comes more pressure - and more reward - for athletes competing in the discipline.
During Friday afternoon's slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, the United States swept the top spots on the podium, with Chas Guldemond (Reno, Nev.) landing the gold for the men and Jamie Anderson (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.) again at the top for the women after taking the Dew Cup in Breckenridge in December. With their wins, Guldemond and Anderson also were crowned national champions in snowboard slopestyle Friday.
Guldemond, who earned a 92.5 Friday, is starting the season strong for possibly the first time in his snowboard career - and he's pleased about it. He finished in second place at the Dew Tour in December and put in two solid runs on Friday afternoon, starting the second run nine points ahead of the pack.
"How does he up his own ante?" the announcers said in the booth as Guldemond began his run. And he answered it, by putting together back-to-back 1260s on the line of three jumps at the bottom of the course.
"It's a solid start for me," Guldemond said. "It's ironic. It hasn't happened like this for me in the past. I've always had to catch my momentum and then I go on solid. So, starting off hot is really good for me."
"I'm pulling for the U.S. Snowboard team and I'm pulling for me. It's a double win. I'm really excited to be part of the team and pushing for the Olympics."
Anderson turned her first run, a score of 59, into an 83 with just a handful of riders left to go as temperatures began to plummet Friday afternoon. All this after a bad fall in practice earlier in the day following the morning's qualifiers.
What does it take for this young woman to be consistently at the top?
"The energy all around me," Anderson said. "Actually, all the places I go, I connect with the trees. Every mountain I go to, I like to take a moment to go ground myself. If I get nervous, I go pee in the trees, take a moment to send my energy down to the roots and know that the spirits around me are always going to protect me - even when I took a really, really bad fall in practice.
"I was really emotional, almost at the verge of tears because I'm so thankful my body is strong and it didn't hurt my knees or ankles - at the moment. Just feeling the energy and staying grounded and connected and gratitude. You get a little crazy in the head. You really need to get centered and come back to a solid place to ride at your best ability."
All this didn't come with ease, though. New snow means adjustments in more ways than one. Anderson gave a shout-out to her wax guru, Ryan with Purl Wax.
"If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been able to clear anything. He's been taking care of me for years, so I'm very fortunate and thankful," Anderson said.
Local snowboarder Eric Willett, who crashed in both runs and walked off the landing zone at the base of the course clearly disappointed, said it took a lot of mental adjustment and rethinking runs.
"We knew the snow was coming so we knew we might have to switch up our runs early on. We all kind of had back-up runs we would do. Then you take your practice run and see what speed is like. We all knew it was slow so we all went back to even qualifier runs. It was tough, but you can adapt to the conditions. We have to deal with it. The people who adapt the best get on the podium," Willett said, who added that his performance at Copper Friday isn't the end of the road.
"I'm a really competitive guy, so if I fall on two runs it's like I take it pretty hard on myself for a bit and then I'm good. It's kind of tough, but it's still the beginning of the season we still have a bunch going on," he said.