SOCHI, Russia — Halfpipe history was coming down to Maddie Bowman of the U.S. or Marie Martinod of France, and the space right behind the interview area was a curious mosh pit of fun, frolicking and fretting.
Bowman, of South Lake Tahoe, had bettered her first effort, scoring 89.00 on her second run, sending a group of French fans and Bowman supporters into a frenzy of singing and chanting.
It all came down to one final run for Martinod, the final skier on this Thursday night. She crafted a stellar, artistic run but it wasn't enough for gold, only silver with 85.40 points.
Bowman's family and friends seized control of the celebration. Front and center was Bowman's grandmother, Lorna Perpall, a woman with a good singing voice and the proud owner of a T-shirt with the words: "Bad Ass Grandma."
"I had a dream about nine months ago and it just Maddie got gold," Perpall said. "I thought, 'Well, that's my wishful thinking.'
"Maddie was the one that gave me the name. She was being interviewed on a public radio station. The interviewer said, 'It sounds like you and your grandmother are very close.' And Maddie said, 'Oh yeah. She's one badass grandma.'
" 'And I want to be just like her when I grow up.' "
The Olympics is not only about competition but also about family. And the 20-year-old Bowman, the youngest free skier in the final, had her grandmother, brother, and her ski-coach parents, Bill and Sue, on hand to witness her gold.
Said Sue: "[Lorna] always told us, if you can sidestep and kick turn, you can ski anything. That's what she told us when we were little."
Bill admitted he was nervous throughout qualifying and the long break before the final.