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American Maddie Bowman wins inaugural Sochi Olympics ski halfpipe event

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The odds-on favorite in ski halfpipe, American Maddie Bowman won the gold in inaugural ski halfpipe event at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday.

Bowman threw down two wicked runs down the halfpipe to defeat a strong field of halfpipers in the contest newly added by the IOC to spike excitement into the Winter Olympics line-up.

The twenty-year-old South Lake Tahoe, CA skier stoked her runs with 540, 720 and 900 twists, while gaining big air off of the halfpipe.

While her mark from her first trek (85.80) down the pipe was enough to win gold, she topped this mark (89.00) in the second heat by nailing a corked 900 – a 2.5 rotation, coupled with a twisting spin.

About landing atop the podium, Bowman said, “I am so happy. It’s crazy.”

France’s Marie Martinod sealed the silver (85.40) while Japan’s Ayana Onozuka earned the bronze, both compliments of more challenging final runs that they nailed.

The first American to qualify for the Sochi Olympics via the U.S. qualifiers, Bowman led a strong U.S. showing into the finals. Brita Sigourney (sixth), Annalisa Drew (ninth), and Angeli Vanlaanen (eleventh) rounded-out Team USA’s strong performance.

All of the competitors were skiing in honor of Sarah Burke, the ski halfpipe pioneer who died on January 20, 2012 - ten days after a severe injury sustained training accident at a Park City, UT event.

Bowman, who was close friends with Burke, said, “It means so much for us to be able to show the world what the sport is, what we can do, and who we are.”

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