Staale Sandbech and Max Parrot top slopestyle qualifiers
One day before the 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Sochi officially kick off with the opening ceremony, the snowboarders were in honour to get their first Olympic experience with the qualifiers for the slopestyle event.
With slopestyle having added to the Olympic programme just recently thus celebrating its debut at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, expectations were high, especially after one of the favourites was already out due to injury (Torstein Horgmo, NOR) and another one had chosen to pull out in order to concentrate on halfpipe only (Shaun White, USA).
Facing blue bird sky and perfect snow conditions, the world's finest were ready to get things going.
29 men were randomly divided into two heats with the top-4 men of each one going straight to Saturday's finals (9:45 AM CET) and the rest of the pack getting a second chance in the semis.
Semis will take place before the finals (6:30 AM) offering four remaining tickets to the big show.
With Olympic pressure as well as some high hopes on their shoulders the men delivered a nice slopestyle show showing what's on right now on the courses around the world, including plenty of doubles and some triple action.
FIS Snowboard Race Director Uwe Beier commented: “The qualifications went really well in great conditions today. The level of competition was very high with many of the athletes showcasing top performances. I also received very positive feedback from the athletes and saw many of them smiling.”
One of them with the biggest smiles on their face was Stale Sandbech who took the top qualifier spot in heat 1 with 94.50 thanks to an impressive second run with a cab 1260, frontside 1080 and a textbook backside 1440.
He was accompanied by 2010 Olympic Halfpipe Silver medalist Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), Seb Toutant (CAN) as well as Jamie Nicholls (GBR).
In heat 2, the guys stepped it up one more time with Max Parrot, coming from a double Gold at the X-Games, putting the hammer down with a cab 1260, frontside 1080 and a backside 1440 triple earning 97.50 from a max of 100.
The other three riders clinching their ticket to the finals were reigning FIS Snowboard World Champion Roope Tonteri (FIN), Sven Thorgren (SWE) and Gjermund Braaten (NOR).
Check the full results here.