MCMANIMAN (CAN) takes Ladies' Slopestyle Gold in first competition since double knee surgery
Audrey MCMANIMAN (CAN) had two knee operations in 2011 but one would never know it from watching her Gold medal performance in the Snowboard Ladies' Slopestyle Final at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games on Thursday.
"I've worked so hard and spent so much time in physio. I just can't believe how good it feels to be here," MCMANIMAN said.
Her score of 84.25 points was enough for Gold ahead of Arielle GOLD (USA), who claimed Silver with 71.75, and Alexandra FITCH (AUS), who took Bronze with 69.75.
MCMANIMAN tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, then tore the right one at the end of the same season.
To recover quickly, she opted to have both ACL replacement surgeries done in the summer of 2011, then spent more than four months in daily physical therapy to get back on the snow in December.
Innsbruck 2012 was her first competition since the surgery, but the after-effects of injury were nowhere to be seen as the 16-year-old caught the biggest air of her career.
"That's the biggest method I've ever pulled," MCMANIMAN said of the final move at the end of her Gold medal first run.
New ground was being broken by all the Ladies on the podium.
"This was totally unexpected," Silver medallist GOLD said. "I'm not even really much of a [Slopestyle] rider. They said that I could do it, so I just decided to do it for fun."
The podium means GOLD will return to her home in Colorado, USA, with two Silver medals. Her first came in the Ladies' Halfpipe event on Sunday.
The Men's and Ladies' Halfpipe competitions were originally scheduled for Friday, January 20, but the Final was moved to Thursday when forecasts predicted high winds on Friday.
The wind began to pick up as the final drew near, and visibility was lower than it had been during the sunny training rounds earlier in the week.
"I've never done a course this long before," FITCH said. "The [wind] was knocking me around a little bit but we all held it together and it was fine."
FITCH savoured the feeling of her podium place, having missed a medal by one position in Sunday's Ladies' Halfpipe.
"It's amazing," FITCH said. "It's good to be able to get up there on the podium and represent my country. It's a great experience."