Snowboarder Julia Marino earns first medal for Team USA, takes silver in women's slopestyle at Beijing Olympics

Snowboarder Julia Marino is the first medalist for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics.

The 24-year-old from Westport, Connecticut, landed back-to-back 900s and a front-side double cork 1080 on her second run Sunday morning in the women's slopestyle finals to take silver behind New Zealand's Zoi Sadowski-Synnott.

"There's so much emotions," Marino said after the contest. "It's pure excitement and happiness. It was a great day. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better finals. That's how it should be at the Olympics."

The last rider to drop in the contest, Sadowski-Synnott landed a massive, technical run to become her country's first Olympic champion in any winter sport. The 20-year-old took bronze in big air at the event's debut at Pyeongchang 2018.

"To land my run and come away with gold, it feels unreal," Sadowski-Synnott said. "I'm super proud of where my snowboarding has come in the last four years and super proud to be Kiwi and show the world what Kiwis are made of. I really hope my performance here will inspire young kids to take up snowboarding."

Two-time defending Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, 31, came into the event as a heavy favorite to finish on the podium, if not become the first woman to win three straight gold medals in snowboarding. But she struggled throughout the contest, failed to land a run and finished ninth.

"Not this year," Anderson could be heard saying after her third run as she hugged Marino at the bottom of the course.

Two-time Olympian Hailey Langland of Carlsbad, California, landed a strong second run to qualify Saturday but never figured out the rhythm of the course and finished 11th. That was true for many of the top women, as few riders landed full runs and even fewer attempted their biggest tricks.

But Sadowski-Synnott landed when it counted. Over the past few years, she has become the most dominant woman in slopestyle riding. She is a two-time world champion and the defending X Games Aspen gold medalist in slopestyle and big air.

In February 2021, Sadowski-Synnott won the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, stop of the Natural Selection big mountain contest, proving she is one of the strongest all-around riders in the world. But it is Marino who will make the morning TV show rounds in the U.S. come Monday.

Known as one of the most consistent contest riders in the sport, Marino helped introduce double corks and double underflips to slopestyle competition. She was the first woman to land a double cork in slopestyle competition in 2016, and at X Games Aspen in 2017, she became the first woman to land a double underflip in competition and won slopestyle and big air in her rookie debut.

"This hugely makes up for 2018," Marino said, referring to the windy, treacherous conditions the women faced during finals in Pyeongchang. "This was four years of redemption."

Australian rider Tess Coady earned the bronze.