US team's national Olympic selection process fires up Snowmass competition
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team athletes have dominated the qualifiers for their home soil Halfpipe World Cup event in Aspen Snowmass today.
With the season's fourth competition counting as penultimate qualifier for the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games in both, the official international qualifier period which comes to an end with the LAAX Open next week on January 21 and the hosting nation's own selection process which will feature the Mammoth Grand Prix next week as final stop, the boys and girls from the US were on top of their game fighting for their respective personal team spots.
And with the conditions being tremendously better than yesterday's unstable and adverse weather everything was set for a first showdown.
Facing cold temperatures in the morning, women were the first to drop in with four US ladies grabbing half of the available spots for the finals which are slated for Saturday 1 PM (9 PM CET).
Coming fresh off a second rank finish in Copper Mountain prior to the holiday break, Maddie Mastro set the first bar with a score of 88.00 in the first run.
The 17-year-old teen who has been placing on the podium in all of her four World Cup starts so far but is still missing a win upped the ante in run two to 90.25 for back-to-back 540s, a frontside 720 to haakon flip and a backside air.
Her score did hold off only two more riders before Arielle Gold stomped her frontside 900 to backside rodeo 540, back-to-back 720s, a crippler and a method air to earn a 91.00.
The 2013 World Champion therefore led a field of eight ladies to the finals which – besides Mastro – also included her teammates Kelly Clark (85.00) and current World Cup leader Chloe Kim (82.00).
In fact, all four are currently leading the race for the US Olympic Snowboard Team nomination with the qualifier process halfway through.
The quartet will face Japanese Hikaru Oe (86.00), Haruna Matsumoto (79.50) and Kurumi Imai (71.50) as well as Queralt Castellet (ESP; 79.75) in the finals.
While the US ladies took half of the spots for the big show on Saturday, their fellow countrymen did even better with seven riders making the finals of the top-10 including the top-6 of the current US selection rankings.
Top qualifier Shaun White (95.00) who landed back-to-back double corks, a frontside 540 to a backside double cork 1260 and a final frontside 900 as well as Ben Ferguson (93.50) who got technical again with a cab double cork 1080 to frontside double cork 900, backside 360, switch mc twist and a steezy switch alley oop double backside rodeo and Jake Pates (86.00) underlined with their decent performance that they are currently fourth, first and second of the selection rankings not for nothing.
Especially as they are the only three US guys in the finals who have already achieved minimum U.S. qualifying criteria which is one top-three result in the qualifying events.
Danny Davis (83.25), Toby Miller (81.50), the only one already a bit behind in the battle for the national Olympic spots as well as Chase Josey (76.00) and Gregory Bretz (75.75) still have to deliver the mandatory podium result.
Yuto Totsuka (JPN; 91.75), the winner of qualifier heat one as well as two-time World Champion Scotty James (AUS; 88.75) and Naito Ando (JPN; 73.75) were able to grab a spot for the men's finals of the best 10 qualifiers, too.
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