KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Jamie Anderson isn't the type to be intimidated. Making a career out of flinging yourself down mountains isn't for the faint of heart.
Yet the greatest slopestyle snowboarder of her generation is still trying to get a handle on these Olympics.
Yes, the Extreme Park course at Rosa Khutor is risky. Yes, there's danger at the end of every rail, jump and Russian nesting doll along a 2,000-foot roller coaster that has already taken out a handful of contenders and chased away no less a snowboarder than Shaun White.
But there's gold and glory at the bottom.
It's why the 23-year-old American from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., will put aside her mixed feelings about the politics surrounding the Sochi Games and the fairness of a course she thinks isn't quite up to par and focus on the triumph that awaits if she can fend off the rest of the field in Sunday's slopestyle final.
"I think you're just going to have to be strong and on your feet," she said. "You can't go half-assed onto this course. It's all or nothing."
Anderson saw both sides of the mountain during her first week in Sochi, slamming hard during practice on Wednesday only to bounce back 24 hours later to post the second-best score in qualifying. She looked more relieved than stoked after finishing her run, grateful she won't have to go through a semifinal run before the medal round begins.
"It's a challenging course," she said. "A lot of impact for everyone. 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.'"