Olympic odds, ends & trends: Former American bobsledder anchors Jamaica’s ‘Cool Runnings 2.0’
In today’s Summit Daily Olympic odds, ends and trends, a former U.S. Olympic bobsledder anchors Jamaica’s “Cool Runnings 2.0” two-woman bobsled team, and we wonder: Why is snowboard big air in the Olympics, but ski big air is not?
Summit Stat: 98.0
The top score posted in the qualifying round for women’s snowboard big air, achieved by the woman many regard as the gold medal favorite for this debut Olympic event: Austria’s Anna Gasser. Gasser executed the near-perfect score by stomping a cab double cork 1080, which made her the only competitor to land the move in the qualifying round. Gasser’s top contenders for the gold will be last week’s slopestyle gold and silver medalists (respectively) in Team USA’s Jamie Anderson and Canada’s Laurie Blouin. Each of those riders landed cab double cork 900s in the qualifier but may need to go bigger in the big air final, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MST on Thursday.
Along with Anderson, Team USA’s Julia Marino and Jessika Jenson also qualified. Jenson squeezed in as the final qualifier, which means she will drop in first on Thursday. Marino will drop in fourth after her pair of cab double underflips proved good enough to qualify. Japan’s high-flying duo of Reira Iwabuchi and Yuka Fujimori also figure to play a role in how the medals shakeout on Thursday.
Cool Runnings 2.0
For many American Olympic fans, their first exposure to the sport of bobsled came thanks to the 1993 John Candy comedy “Cool Runnings,” about Jamaica’s first-ever Olympic bobsled team at the Calgary Games in 1988.
Thirty years later, the Jamaican National Boblsled team has a sequel of sorts to the Disney film, as Jamaica, for the first time, will have a women’s team compete at an Olympics.
That two-woman Jamaican bobsled, though, is anchored in South Korea by a name familiar to many American bobsled fans: Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian.
Fenlator-Victorian is a native of New Jersey who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with her bobsled partner, famous Summer Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones. But in the four years since Sochi, Fenlator-Victorian has switched her Olympic allegiance to Jamaica while also wedding a Jamaican male bobsledder, her husband Surf Fenlator-Victorian. Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is paired with native-Jamaican Carrie Russell in the two-woman competition in Pyeongchang. After their first heat, the pair ranked 18th of 20 sleds, though they had three more heats to make up for it.
How do the two national teams compare?
“With Team USA, you’re at a hotel that has room and board, so you share a room with one person,” Fenlator-Victorian said last year in Lake Placid. “With our team, we stuff air mattresses and cots around Airbnb houses — and sometimes if the basement is open, it doesn’t even have sheetrock on the walls, and we are all stuffed in the basement trying to sleep, and it’s freezing.”
But what about ski big air?
When ski slopestyle medal favorite Henrik Harlaut of Sweden failed to qualify for the slopestyle final, his Olympics were effectively over.
But when Summit County shredders Chris Corning and Kyle Mack failed to qualify for the snowboard slopestyle final, neither of their Olympics were over — because they still had this week’s first-ever snowboard big air competition.
It may seem unfair to freestyle skiers like Harlaut, who won ski big air gold at last month’s X Games Aspen, but even though snowboard big air makes its Olympic debut this year, ski big air won’t. And it may not for some time, if ever.
Though ski big air each year is one of the most exciting events at the X Games, its similarities to the long-established Olympic winter sport of ski jumping and recent addition aerials skiing seems to be holding the event back.
Speaking Monday, U.S. big air snowboarder Dylan Thomas of Breckenridge said he doesn’t have his hopes up that ski big air will join the Olympics any time soon, though he would be a supporter of the addition.
“Snowboarding, we don’t have aerialists,” Thomas said, “so we could put big air in easily with no friction. If freestyle skiing put ski big air in, those aerialists would become obsolete.”
That’s just one man’s opinion, In any event, if we don’t see ski big air in the Olympics in any of our lifetimes, don’t be surprised.
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