Canada splashes to gold

By Eddie Pells
Associated Press / February 28, 2010

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Canadian Jasey-Jay Anderson put the exclamation point on his incredible résumé yesterday, winning Olympic gold in the parallel giant slalom to slap some sunshine on an otherwise miserable day for snowboarding.

The 34-year-old from Quebec, owner of seven World Cup championships, carved through the rain-sluiced, fogged-in course at Cypress Mountain to make up a .76-second deficit over Benjamin Karl of Austria, the top-ranked rider in the world.

“Shock,’’ Anderson said when asked how he felt. “That’s it.’’

He won the 12th gold medal of the Vancouver Games for Canada, which put the host in good position to win the gold-medal standings with only one day left.

And he won his first Olympic medal in four tries, adding it to his four world championship golds and a career that has done more than anyone’s to spread the word of snowboarding across his wintry country.

“It’s amazing the amount of energy I sucked out of people around me,’’ Anderson said. “And it’s amazing to be able to give something back.’’

He did it on a course hindered by sloppy, slushy, rain-saturated snow and nearly blind racing conditions. At times, the fog was so thick, riders said they couldn’t see two gates in front of them. At others, the rain laid down on their goggles to make the rut-filled trip down the course that much more treacherous.

“In these conditions, it’s virtually impossible,’’ Anderson said. “Challenges like today, where you’re swimming all day, you can’t see anything, you just have to rise above that and do the best you can. I tried to dig in deep and see what was there.’’

Bronze medalist Mathieu Bozzetto of France called the conditions “ugly,’’ and American Tyler Jewell said if this had been a World Cup event, “they probably would have canceled it.’’

Vancouver Games organizers, as they have throughout, sloughed off the questions about holding events at a rain-soaked venue that has been hard to reach for fans and hard to compete on for athletes. Because of the schedule and the weather, yesterday was the first day the men had actually been allowed down the competition course.

It was another day that snowboarding’s least-popular discipline endured a black eye, held in soaking conditions that sent rider after rider falling. All four of the quarterfinals, including one involving American Chris Klug, were decided after one of the two riders skidded off course.

“I feel like I’m going salmon fishing more than snowboarding out here,’’ Klug said.

Klug skidded out and couldn’t endure. He ended up seventh.