Not only was the best of her two final runs better than the competition, her second-best effort would have been good enough to win the gold medal.
Bowman, X-Games champion in the event the last two years, received a score of 89.00 with her second trip down the halfpipe, during which she skied cleanly and impressed the judges with a trick in which she landed backwards.
She also pulled off that stunt on her first run, for which she had a score of 85.80.
Marie Martinod of France was second with a point total of 84.40, achieved in her second run. Japan's Ayana Onozuka was third with an 83.20.
The halfpipe for freestyle skiers was added to the Olympic program this year after the popularity of snowboarding halfpipe had been demonstrated since its debut in 1998.
Bowman's gold was the third in freestyle skiing for the United States at these Olympics.