Stevens Eleventh In Big Air
Darian Stevens of Missoula, Montana made it a point to go down in history this Winter Olympic Games as one of the 12 women who competed in the first big air final in Olympic history. Stevens finished 11th overall, but not for lack of trying.
Monday's competition at the Big Air Shougang jump in Beijing was the first final she has qualified for in big air so far this season. After throwing a switch 1080 in her opening run, and falling a bit flat on her second run, Stevens took a look into the broadcast camera and said "gotta go big in big air, right?"
She knew she had one last shot to show the world what she's made of, and she did just that.
In an attempt to keep up with the progression of tricks demonstrated by the rest of the field, Stevens made the risky decision to go for a double cork 1440 in her third run, a trick she had tried for the first time in practice the same day. She didn't land it, but she did ski away with a huge smile on her face.
"I don't compete in big air a lot, but I do think it's really fun," said Stevens. "It's an event where you bring out the best tricks you can do and lay it all out on the line, and that's what I did today."
"It's kind of crazy, to try a double for the first time in Olympic final practice, but it felt like the right time, so I just gave her a rip today," she added. "I went a little bigger than I thought, and over-rotated a tad bit, but it was not too bad. I'm happy to just come out and show the world a trick they didn't know I could do."
Keeping up with the progression of tricks was the biggest challenge of the day. Each athlete was pushing their limit, and thus pushing the sport. NBC commentator Tom Wallisch called the event one of the most progressive freeski events he had ever watched.
Eileen Gu, a San Francisco native competing for China, threw a double cork 1620 – a trick she had never attempted in competition – to make her bid for gold. Silver medalist Tess Leduex of France and bronze medalist Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland pushed her to the limit, as each woman stomped a double cork 1440 at some point throughout the competition.
After an emotional finish Tuesday's big air final, the women move on to compete in freeski slopestyle qualifiers on Saturday, Feb. 12.
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST
Monday, Feb. 7, 2022
12:30 a.m. Freestyle Skiing – Men's Big Air Qualifying, Big Air Shougang, Beijing, CHN, USA Network, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
8:00 p.m. Primetime Freestyle Skiing Women's Big Air, Alpine Skiing Men's Super G, NBC Broadcast
9:00 p.m. Freestyle Skiing – Women's Big Air Final, Big Air Shougang, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022
2:00 a.m. West Coast Encore – Women’s Big Air Final, Men’s super G & more, NBC Broadcast
8:00 p.m. Primetime Broadcast – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe, Alpine Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air, NBC Broadcast
10:00 p.m. Freestyle – Men’s Big Air Final, Big Air Shougang, Beijing, CHN, NBCOlympics.com, Streaming Peacock
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022
2:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
5:00 a.m. Primetime – Snowboarding Women’s Halfpipe Qualifying, Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom, Freestyle Men’s Big Air (re-air), NBC Broadcast
6:30 a.m. 2022 Winter Olympics Medal Ceremonies Day 5, NBC Broadcast