Halfpipe and Slopestyle qualifiers continue at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix in Breckenridge, January 8 to 11
The third of five freeskiing Olympic qualifiers is this week at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Breckenridge, Colorado, and with only one spot secured on the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team, the competition is just starting to get interesting.
Nick Goepper became the first ever skier to land a spot on the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team after coming in second in the slopestyle finals at the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Copper Mountain last month. With two podiums and two victories over his fellow American competitors, Goepper earned enough points to make him untouchable for the remaining three qualifiers.
But other than Goepper, who will fill the remaining spots on the Olympic freeskiing team is still largely undetermined.
No other American male slopestyle competitor has finished in the top three in either of the two qualifiers thus far, making the qualifiers ahead critical for the U.S. men’s slopestyle team. In the qualifiers, athletes must have two top three finishes or one top three finish plus two top five finishes to meet the minimum requirements to make the pro Olympic team. McRae Williams and Bobby Brown are right behind Goepper in slopestyle. Williams and Brown came in fourth and fifth respectively at Copper Mountain.
Aaron Blunck from Crested Butte, Colorado, slid to the top of the U.S. men’s halfpipe roster after taking first place at Copper and second place at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge earlier in December. Blunk has met the minimum criteria to make the Olympic team, but David Wise and Gus Kenworthy are right there with him, and the standings could change in the next three qualifiers.
For the ladies halfpipe, Brita Sigourney’s win at Copper pushed her closer to Maddie Bowman’s high standing. Bowman placed second at Copper, and both have met the minimum criteria to make the team.
Maggie Voisin, 15, from Whitefish, Montana, is leading the American women’s slopestyle team, but Daian Stevens and Devin Logan are only four points behind her in the Olympic standings and they could easily slip ahead in the coming events.
The Sprint Freeskiing Grand Prix was moved to Breckenridge from Northstar, California, because of snow conditions. You can watch live coverage of the event on the NBC Sports Network. —Julie Brown