Rigby native Jessika Jenson finished 15th overall in the women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying run Thursday, earning her a spot in the semifinals late Saturday in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The top eight placers in Thursday’s qualifying received a bye past the semifinals and a spot in Sunday’s finals. The qualifying races served as seeding for the final 16 competitors in the semifinals, which starts at 11:30 p.m. MT Saturday. The top four in the semifinals advance to the finals.
Jenson, the last to compete in the second heat in the women’s qualifications, landed on the edge of her snowboard during her first run and received a score of 34. She rebounded on her second run and notched a 58.5 for seventh in her heat and 15th overall.
The 2009 Rigby High School graduate is the first Olympian from eastern Idaho since 1964.
Snowboarders kicked off competition at the Olympics on Thursday by making the slopestyle layout that Shaun White deemed “intimidating” feel anything but that. White pulled out of the event earlier this week.
Canadian Max Parrot backed up his win last month at the Winter X Games with a 97.5 — 2.5 points short of perfect — in a men’s qualifying run punctuated by a triple-flipping jump with a dead-solid landing.
Leading female contender, American Jamie Anderson, had no problem the day after banging up her back in practice. She called the course conditions “questionable,” especially for the women.
“It’s a challenging course. A lot of impact for everyone,” Anderson said after a 93.5. “Little 15 year olds are, like, ‘I’m not even old and my back is still sore every day. Not even from crashing, just from riding.’”
Among the problems they’re dealing with are too-steep takeoff ramps that don’t mesh with the pitch of the landings. The transition areas between the jumps aren’t very big, so it’s hard to build up the speed needed to get the air the steepest jumps demand.