VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canadian snowboarder Jasey Jay Anderson overcame dismal conditions on Saturday to win gold in the Olympic men’s parallel giant slalom watched by his two young daughters.
Anderson thrilled the rain-soaked crowd at the last event on weather-challenged Cypress Mountain as he raced through the dense fog and squeezed past Austria’s Benjamin Karl to win.
The Canadian started with a slight time deficit after the first run of the final but made up ground coming down the course and finished a few board lengths ahead of Karl.
After crossing the finish line Anderson looked back, realized he had won and screamed as he pumped his arms in the air with the audience, including his daughters holding a ‘Go Papa Gold’ sign, going wild.
”Pretty hard to beat, eh? Olympic gold at home,“ Anderson told reporters. ”Today’s the day and what tops it off is that my little girls were here to watch it. I hope they remember it.
“I‘m sure they were just cheering because it was their dad, not because their dad was doing well. I think that’s the best part of the day -- having the girls there and having them be just as proud of me if I’d had a bad day,” he said, his voice breaking as he turned aside and tried to hold back tears.
Anderson, the 2009 world champion who runs a blueberry farm with his wife in the off-season, showed none of that emotion when he was flying down the slick, icy course.
“I had so much time to make up and in these conditions it’s virtually impossible,” said Anderson, who started the second final nearly a second behind Karl.
“I just thought, a true athlete thrives on adversity. So I tried to be a true athlete.”
The fog was so thick spectators could not see the course less than 40 meters in front of them. But the hundreds of plastic poncho-clad fans who braved elements ranging from hail to torrential rain waved their red mittens when Anderson won.
Sno-Cat drivers at the top of the mountain honked their horns when they heard Anderson had won and the crowd chanted “Jasey Jay, Jasey Jay” and rang cowbells as he got his medal.
France’s Mathieu Bozzetto won bronze after beating Russian Stanislav Detkov in the small final.
Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant; Editing by Ed Osmond