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Posted: Feb 27, 3:08p ET | Updated: Feb 28, 1:59p ET

Anderson's comeback gives Canada PGS gold

Jasey Jay Anderson final-run overcomes deficit to defeat Austria's Karl

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Holding a daughter in each arm, Jasey Jay Anderson squeezed his eyes shut as he stood atop the podium. One of the girls was giving him a kiss, the other was checking out his new gold medal.

All the fog, rain, slop and slush in the world couldn't have ruined that moment.

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Canada's snowboarding icon finally put the exclamation point on his incredible resume Saturday, adding the long-missing Olympic gold to a career in which he has accomplished virtually everything.

"Pretty hard to beat, eh?" Anderson said. "Olympic gold at home. That's the one."

The 34-year-old from Quebec overcame a .76-second deficit to Austria's Benjamin Karl to win the race and win his first gold medal in four tries at the Olympics -- and the 12th gold of the Vancouver Games for the host country.

His daughters, Jora and Jy, sat soaked in the stands for a day they might not remember but much of Canada will.

"They basically just sit there and watch me come in through the last three turns because of the fog," Anderson said. "And I'm sure they were cheering just because it was their dad, not because dad was doing well. That's beautiful."

Anderson added the parallel giant slalom gold to his seven World Cup titles, four world championship golds and a career that has done more than anyone's to spread the word of snowboarding across his wintry country.

He did it on a course hindered by sloppy, slushy, rain-saturated snow and nearly blind racing conditions. At times, the fog was so thick, riders said they couldn't see two gates in front of them. At others, the rain laid down on their goggles to make the rut-filled trip down the course that much more treacherous.

"Our sport struggles to look good sometimes," Anderson said. "And today was one of those days."

Bronze medalist Mathieu Bozzetto of France called the conditions "ugly," and criticized race managers, who were worried about warm temperatures, for using chemical snow hardeners that turned the course into little more than an ice rink covered in water.

"The guys were really afraid," Bozzetto said. "And when they are afraid, they prepare icy slopes and they have problems."

American Tyler Jewell said if this were a World Cup event, "they probably would have canceled it."

"But this is the Olympics," Jewell said.

Vancouver Games organizers, as they have throughout, sloughed off the critical questions about holding events at a rain-soaked venue that has been hard to reach for fans and hard to compete on for athletes. Because of the schedule and the weather, Saturday was, in fact, the first day the men had actually been allowed down the competition course.

"We knew from the beginning of January, mid-January, that this lovely mountain was going to provide us some real challenges," Vancouver Organizing Committee spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade said. "It's been like our special child in the family, who's lovely and talented, and causes you all kinds of headaches because it is what it is."

It was the second straight day that PGS, snowboarding's least-popular discipline, endured a black eye, held in soaking conditions that sent rider after rider falling. All four of Saturday's quarterfinals, including one involving American Chris Klug, were decided after one of the two riders skidded off course.

"I feel like I'm going salmon fishing more than snowboarding out here," Klug said. "I feel like I'm going on a surf trip, it's so wet."

Klug, who won bronze in 2002 -- 18 months after a lifesaving liver transplant -- briefly looked like he might fashion yet another amazing Olympic moment. Qualifying last of the 16 who make the heats, he knocked off top-seeded Andreas Prommegger in the first round and had a .6-second lead on Bozzetto after the first of their two races.

But Klug, like so many on this day, skidded out and couldn't endure. He ended up seventh, and said in 20 years of World Cup competition, he'd never seen anything like it.

"This takes the cake," he said.

Unlike Friday, when fans bailed after qualifying to get out of the pouring rain, the stands remained full to watch one of the country's sports icons try to pick up the only big prize that has eluded him over a 14-year career.

"He's a rock, he's solid, he doesn't give up," said Canadian Alpine snowboard coach Mark Fawcett. "He's won obviously all these World Cups and world championships and the only thing missing from the collection was that right there. He wasn't going to stop until he got one."

After a rough first race, Anderson had to start the second heat .76 seconds behind Karl, who came in with one victory, five podiums and the top ranking in the world.

On this course, there should have been no chance. But Anderson started making up ground about halfway down, then overcame the Austrian with about six gates left and won by .35 seconds.

"Honestly, I was happy with silver," Anderson said.

Instead, he got the gold.

Then an even better reward.

"That's the best part of the day, having my daughters there, and I knew they'd be just as proud of me," he said, then paused to fight back tears. "They'd be just as proud of me if I had a bad day."

 

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