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Jess Rich narrowly misses out on Big Air final

19 February 2018

BIG AIR: Jess Rich has narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Snowboard Big Air women's finals after placing 13th in Monday's qualification runs.

While the 27-year-old has had a turbulent 18 months, enduring both a broken back, broken collar bone and a ruptured ACL, she said she got everything that she had hoped for in her Olympic debut - two clean runs.

"It was a surreal experience," she said.

"Definitely wasn't what I planned and so having to deal with a lot of things in the lead up definitely made it challenging.

"I didn't know if I was actually going to make it so the fact that I was able to just drop into the jump today is a huge thing for me.

"I had to play with the cards I was dealt and I had to choose the tricks that work for me and my injury and the fact that I put them down is the one thing I wanted.

"I did better than I thought. To be up against all those women that are riding their best, to come 13th ... I'm stoked."

With only 12 progressing through to Friday's finals, the 27-year-old missed out by just 2.00 points.

Rich sat in ninth position after her first run having scored 73.50 however higher scores by her competitors in the second run through meant the snowboarder had to score 76.25 to progress - she landed cleanly but it was only good enough for a score of 74.25

Austria's Anna Gasser finished first with a best score of 98.00 while Japan's Yuka Fujimori and Reira Iwabuchi were ranked second and third scoring 94.25 and 92.75 respectively. 

Having not recieved medical clearance to compete in the women's Snowboard Slopestyle, Rich has spent every day since arriving to PyeongChang in the gym to realise her Olympic dream.

"There was definitely a chance that I wasn't able to compete.

"They definitely could've said I wasn't strong enough but I had a really good support crew over here and trainers and physios that were working with me night and day and we got there. I think that they're just as stoked as I am to be here.

"Even in the Village, I've been joking that I'm on a fitness camp because everyone's been going off to do their events and I've been waking up and going to the gym at 6AM."

Not only was it Rich's Olympic debut but also Big Air's.

"I honestly don't think there could have been a better show. It was perfect weather for us and you really got to see how crazy these women actually are and what we do every day and I hope everyone can get behind it and see how cool it is."

The Olympian will now return home to Australia for surgery but said she has her sights set on Beijing 2022.

"A lot can happen in four years," she said.

David Barden

olympics.com.au

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