By: Nick Lipton – Under the sun and in the crisp mountain air 14 ladies gathered to laugh, cheer and snowboard in the female Snowboard Slopestyle Prelim. The athletes had a great time, but Sarka Panc, who took 1st place, left the happiest. Sarka, the hard charging youngster, earned the top spot by combining break neck confidence with big spins and switch trickery.
After the win Sarka's spirit soared, "I feel great, I won today! I'm like so stoked!" The young Czech had every reason to be hyped too. Her rail tricks, while nothing technical, were solid and smooth, and her jump game was on fire. In the triple set Sarka put down a backside 540, switch backside 180, and a lofty frontside 720. In the world of female snowboarding, that's a banger run.
While Sarka won the contest outright, the remaining top five (Qualifiers for the Final) would be a mystery until the last minute. Athletes were popping into and being bumped out of the top five constantly as the second run's continuously switched things up. The most, or possibly least, surprising last minute change came from Jamie Anderson. Jamie, who scored a 33.33 on her first run, is capable of greatness, and today she brought it for her second run. Jamie popped a frontside 360, backside 180 and Cab 540 on the jump line, while putting down some solid slides on the rails.
A living legend snagged 3rd place. Janna Meyen's backside 540, Cab 540, and 360 were as smooth and big as you'd expect from one of snowboarding's most recognizable names. Janna, having been there done that, could easily win tomorrow's Final.
Rounding out the top five Jenny Jones and Shelly Gotlieb placed 4th and 5th respectively. Jenny spun and slid her way into 4th with 720s, 360s, and some stylish presses on the rails. Shelly Gotlieb threw a tall Cab 540, a long and lazy backflip, plenty of 360s, boardslides, and even presses in her successful attempt at impressing the judges.
Although Kjersti Ostgaard Buaas ended up in 6th, one spot shy of advancing to the Final, she still enjoyed her day. Kjersti not only rode in the Superpipe Final, but landed a dream run as well. After a huge 720 in her second run Kjersti was all smiles and cheer.
The top five qualifiers will compete in tomorrow's Slopestyle Final against the pre-qualified Spencer O'brien in what should be an awesome Final event. Each lady has the skill and talent to win, but Sarka's confidence, Janna's experience, and Spencer's talent will probably dominate the show.