Who can qualify for the U.S. Olympic snowboard team this week at Snowmass?


At the last U.S. Olympic snowboard qualifier, it was one surprise after another in men’s halfpipe.

First, Shaun White missed the final after finding himself unable to put down a clean run amid snowy conditions in the qualifying round, forcing him to look ahead to the final two selection events instead.

That development helped open the door for the rest of the field, and it was Jake Pates who took advantage. In the final, Pates unveiled a new trick that caught everyone off-guard – a double McTwist 1260 with a tail grab. The judges awarded him the victory, and suddenly, the unheralded 19-year-old from Colorado found himself at the center of the Olympic qualifying conversation.

The story resumes this week in Aspen, Colo., with the U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass.

The event, which starts on Wednesday, is the second-to-last qualifier for the U.S. Olympic snowboard team. So far, one halfpipe rider (Chloe Kim) and two slopestyle and big air riders (Jamie Anderson, Chris Corning) have mathematically qualified for the team, but those numbers should grow by the end of the week.

The U.S. can send no more than four men and four women in each discipline. Up to three of those four spots will be determined through automatic nomination at the qualifying events, with any remaining spots distributed at the discretion of the coaching staff.

Live coverage of each final can be seen on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Below is a look at this week’s key storylines for Snowmass.

Men’s halfpipe

After 2 of 4 qualifying events:

1. Ben Ferguson, 1800*

2. Jake Pates, 1320*

3. Danny Davis, 1200

4. Shaun White, 1120*

5-T. Gabe Ferguson, 950

5-T. Chase Josey, 950
*Has fulfilled minimum criteria (one podium finish)

Who can clinch: Ben Ferguson, Jake Pates and Shaun White are all in position to potentially confirm their nominations onto the Olympic team. Ferguson (needs to finish top two among Americans) and Pates (needs to finish as the top American) control their own destinies, while White would need to be the top American and also have Ferguson or Pates finish as the second-best American. There are also scenarios where Ferguson or Pates can finish lower and still qualify for the team, but they would need some assistance from other riders.

On the bubble: Sochi Olympian Danny Davis currently ranks third in qualifying, but he has not yet earned a podium finish. He’ll need to finish top three overall at either of the final two events in order to be eligible for automatic nomination to the team. With only one event left after Snowmass, the rest of the field needs to get a solid result under their belt here, otherwise their Olympic prospects could be dicey. Chase Josey stands out as one rider in particular to keep an eye on. Ben Ferguson’s younger brother, Gabe, is also in the mix.

What else to watch for: Australia’s Scotty James is slated to compete in what could be the latest chapter of a budding rivalry with Shaun White. After unveiling a technical new run last month at Dew Tour, James indicated that he might have even more still to come. Ayumu Hirano is not expected to compete, but there will be a strong Japanese presence nonetheless, with riders like Raibu Katayama and Sochi bronze medalist Taku Hiraoka in the mix as possible spoilers for the U.S. riders still in search of their first podium finish.

Women’s halfpipe

After 2 of 4 qualifying events:
1. Chloe Kim, 2000* (QUALIFIED)

2. Kelly Clark, 1400*

3. Maddie Mastro, 1300*

4. Arielle Gold, 1100*

5-T. Elena Hight, 850

5-T. Hannah Teter, 850
*Has fulfilled minimum criteria (one podium finish)

Who can clinch: Kelly Clark or Maddie Mastro can become the second woman to confirm their nomination onto the team by finishing as the top American. It’s as simple as that.

On the bubble: Based on everything so far, Clark and Mastro look like decent bets to join Chloe Kim on the Olympic team one way or another, which could leave the rest of the field battling for the fourth and final spot, potentially the discretionary selection. Arielle Gold has the inside track ahead of 2017 X Games champion Elena Hight and 2006 Olympic champion Hannah Teter for the moment, but things could get shaken up in Aspen. Gold qualified for the Olympic team in 2014 but was unable to compete after injuring her shoulder during a practice session in Sochi.

What else to watch for: Australia’s Torah Bright is on the start list and would make for an interesting addition to the field. The 2010 Olympic gold medalist has competed sparingly in recent years but would likely be a medal contender in PyeongChang once again.

Men’s slopestyle/big air

After 3 of 5 qualifying events:
1. Chris Corning, 2000* (QUALIFIED)

2. Red Gerard, 1800*

3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*

4. Judd Henkes, 1100

5. Kyle Mack, 1000*

6. Brock Crouch, 950
*Has fulfilled minimum criteria (one podium finish)

Who can clinch: Red Gerard would become the second addition to the team if either he or Chris Corning finishes as the top American.

On the bubble: Kyle Mack injured his ribs at the most recent qualifier and was unable to compete, but because he finished second at an earlier selection event, he could rise up the rankings with a good finish at Snowmass. Despite sitting in a top-three spot right now, Chandler Hunt will likely need at least one more strong result. He was on the podium at the one and only big air qualifier but has struggled by comparison in the two slopestyle events so far, finishing just seventh and eighth among Americans. Judd Henkes is fourth in the rankings but still needs a podium finish in order to be eligible for automatic nomination.

What else to watch for: Chris Corning already confirmed his nomination onto the team, but he was dealing with a painful back injury at the last two qualifiers. It didn’t stop him from finishing on the podium in either contest, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on.

Women’s slopestyle/big air

After 3 of 5 qualifying events:
1. Jamie Anderson, 2000* (QUALIFIED)

2. Julia Marino, 1600*

3. Hailey Langland, 1600*

4. Jessika Jenson, 1050

5. Ty Walker, 1000
*Has fulfilled minimum criteria (one podium finish)

Who can clinch: Julia Marino can confirm her nomination by finishing as the top American. If Jamie Anderson or Hailey Langland has the top U.S. finish, Marino would also qualify a spot if she is second among Americans. Langland could also potentially secure her nomination, but she would need to be the top American and also get some help from either Anderson or Marino.

On the bubble: With Marino and Langland looking like safe bets for the U.S. team, the drama could be for the fourth and final spot, which will most likely be the discretionary pick. Sochi Olympians Jessika Jenson and Ty Walker have the strongest results so far, but anyone could jump into the discussion with impressive showings at the final two qualfiers.

What else to watch for: Last month, Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi was the surprise winner in big air at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. A relative unknown on the contest circuit, she turned 16 years old just a few weeks ago. Could a new Olympic medal hopeful be emerging? This slopestyle contest will be the latest test.

How to watch

Snowboard slopestyle finals

Friday, Jan. 12

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET

NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app

Snowboard halfpipe finals

Saturday, Jan. 13

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET

NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on NBC4i.com

Today's Central OH Forecast

More Forecast

Don't Miss


Storm Team 4 on Alexa