Snowboarding

Kate Pettersen - Saturday Feb. 8, 2014 11:43 ET

Spencer O’Brien set for gold-medal chase in women's slopestyle final

Canadian overcomes early nerves to advance to final

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Canada's Spencer O'Brien overcame early nerves to advance to Sunday’s women’s slopestyle snowboard. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Canada’s Spencer O'Brien is on target for a possible gold medal in the women's slopestyle snowboard final at the Winter Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old from Courtenay, B.C., overcame early nerves to complete a solid qualification run on Thursday.

O'Brien posted a score of 82.75 to finish third in her heat, earning a direct berth into Sunday's medal final. 

"When I stepped up it kind of set in that I was going for the first time in the Olympics," said O'Brien. "I got really scared and all of a sudden I felt like I was going to puke. It's really nerve-racking to do qualifiers.

"When I strapped in, it hit me how much work I have done to get here. I think it is a wonderful thing to celebrate this sport. I'm really excited for the world to see what we do."

For O'Brien, the chance to compete at the Olympics wasn't something she thought would ever happen.

"I was a halfpipe rider and my dream was Vancouver [2010], but then I found slopestyle and I kind of let go of my Olympic dreams because I love slopestyle so much," she said.

"When we got in [to the Olympics] the 13-year-old in me had a party in my head."

Canadian Jenna Blasman of Kitchener, Ont., also looked strong in qualification despite competing with a dislocated and fractured wrist. The 19-year-old finished sixth in her heat and will compete in the semifinal on Sunday morning.

"I could have done better but I'm happy. I'm really excited for the semifinals and I'm glad everyone can go through," said Blasman.

"The course is huge. It feels like a video game. It's really fun and exciting to get to the end. I am going to try and do a 720 [in the finals].”

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