Her teammate Davina Williams was 15th in qualifying after bravely bouncing back from a heavy fall while warming-up for qualification.
In the final Sheehan went for the run that had won her bronze at the past two World Cups. She had promised after qualifying she would go bigger and harder and she did. But she came unstuck with the same switch 720 trick mid pipe on both runs.
The relatively new trick for Sheehan is on her unnatural side but had been one of her favourite tricks of late.
“I’m not sure if it was the nerves or what it was,” Sheehan told media at the bottom of the halfpipe.
Her final score of 40.60 points is not reflective of her ability on a good day.
“Obviously I wanted to show you guys what I could do but I have no regrets I gave it my all and I know Sarah would be proud. And I’m super proud of all these girls for just showing the world what we can do.”
The 27-year-old dedicated her performance to her late friend Sarah Burke, who was a trailblazer in women’s freestyle skiing. She was instrumental in getting the event added to the Olympic program before she died following a training accident in 2012.
American gold medal winner Maddie Brown also dedicated her performance to Sarah Burke. Brown’s second run score of 89.00 got the 20-year-old past Frenchwoman Marie Marinod (84.80). Japan’s Ayana Onozuka won the bronze with 83.20 points.
Sheehan was not sure what her plans where now for her skiing but she has a busy schedule ahead.
“I have worked my butt off to get here so I believe I have a lot of skills that I can either keep competing or become a coach. I’ve been a coach in the past and would love to take another athlete under my wing and get them to the Olympics.
Sheehan is also an illustrator and write so she plans to share some of her experiences through her ‘Skier Amy’ children’s books.
She is also getting married soon to her coach coach and fiancé Chris Boghakian, who has provided technical and strategic advice, which has repaid the US-based Australian.
Lydia Lassila who won a bronze medal as a mother and two other mums who made the Olympic halfpipe final meant that Sheehan wasn’t ruling anything out.
Sheehan actually learnt to ski in New Zealand with her brother and father after being born near Byron Bay in Australia and growing up in the surf. She has a slight New Zealand accent and her brother was ninth in the same event competing for New Zealand at these Games.
Her teammate Davina Williams didn’t have the Olympic competition she had dreamed of. Yet there was no better example of spirit and courage to complete the competition.
Williams suffered a heavy fall in training and she was still suffering during the competition. The Sydney skier cut her lip and was feeling unwell.
“I had a big fall in training and it was only around 15 minutes before I had to go up there and compete,” Williams said.
“There was a lot of blood everywhere I smashed my face and cut my lip. I was feeling a bit out of it but I decided to give it a crack. I wasn’t going to do my second run but it was a bit of a last minute decision.”
In run 1 she came off the lip in her first big trick and skied to the bottom of the pipe. She was in the athlete’s tent with her coach and friend Ramone Cooper thinking her Games were over. But she found more strength, composed herself and headed back to the top of the pipe.
She almost missed her run and was not able to execute all her tricks but it was impressive regardless and for a while her 63.00 points had her in 12th spot before she dropped back to 15th.
Williams took 10 months out of the sport after the death of Burke before being inspired by the Olympic Games. She qualified late for Sochi after a strong run of World Cup performances late in the season.
Burke would have been very proud of her friend on Olympic debut. As no doubt Australia should be in this tough sport.
Andrew Reid | sochi2014.olympics.com.au