David Wise and Maddie Bowman will both have the opportunity to defend their freeski halfpipe Olympic titles.
The two gold medalists from the Sochi Winter Games qualified for PyeongChang at the U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass, the fourth of five selection events for the U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team.
Wise won the men’s contest, topping a stacked field that included U.S. teammates Alex Ferreira, Aaron Blunck and Gus Kenworthy. In his winning run, Wise landed a technical sequence of tricks that included a switch double cork 1080 and double cork 1260s on both walls.
With the win, Wise became the first skier to qualify for the men’s halfpipe team. He had also won a selection event at Copper Mountain last month.
Up to four men and four women will be named to the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team. Two more men will automatically qualify after the final selection event next week at Mammoth.
Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck have the inside track for those two spots after finishing second and third, respectively, at Snowmass to give the U.S. a podium sweep. Both skiers now have two top-three finishes during the selection events, which is the minimum number of podium results needed to be eligible for automatic nomination.
Torin Yater-Wallace, Gus Kenworthy and Taylor Seaton each have one top-three finish. Getting on the podium next week could put them into the mix for one of those two automatic spots, though different scenarios apply to each skier. If all three finish off the podium, then Ferreira and Blunck will both qualify, and the fourth and final spot on the team will be a discretionary selection determined by the coaches.
Ahead of the last Olympics, Yater-Wallace and Kenworthy were two of the top contenders for the discretionary pick. The spot ended up going to Yater-Wallace, who had been injured during most of the qualifying period and then finished 26th in Sochi. Kenworthy, meanwhile, made the slopestyle team and earned a silver medal.
In the women’s halfpipe contest at Snowmass, Canada’s Cassie Sharpe continued her recent momentum by notching another victory. With the win already in hand, she landed a left 1080, a new trick for her, on the last hit of her third and final run to improve her score even further.
Brita Sigourney, in second place, was the lone American to reach the women’s podium. Sochi bronze medalist Ayana Onozuka finished third.
Bowman finished behind them in fourth but was able to secure her nomination to the U.S. Olympic team because she has already met the minimum criteria of two podium finishes, and only two other skiers could possibly do so.
If Sigourney or Devin Logan finish inside the top three at the final qualifier next week at Mammoth, they will join Bowman on the Olympic team. But even if they don’t land on the podium, their body of work so far this season will certainly have them in discussion to be named as discretionary selections.
Logan, who is also attempting to make the U.S. slopestyle team, will compete again on Saturday and Sunday in a pair of freeski slopestyle qualifiers.
U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass Results
Men’s freeski halfpipe
1. David Wise (USA), 95.00
2. Alex Ferreira (USA), 93.00
3. Aaron Blunck (USA), 91.20
4. Noah Bowman (CAN), 90.00
5. Mike Riddle (CAN), 89.20
Women’s freeski halfpipe
1. Cassie Sharpe (CAN), 93.20
2. Brita Sigourney (USA), 89.20
3. Ayana Onozuka (JPN), 87.00
4. Maddie Bowman (USA), 86.60
5. Devin Logan (USA), 78.60