Team USA Men Sweep First Ski Halfpipe Olympic Selection Event After High Winds Cancel Finals

By Craig Bohnert | Feb. 04, 2017, 5:11 p.m. (ET)
Gus Kenworthy competes in the qualifying round of the men's ski halfpipe at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain on Feb. 1, 2017 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.


Mother Nature threw a curve ball at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix ski halfpipe event slated for Saturday morning at Mammoth Mountain, California, as high winds led to the cancellation of the final round and, fortuitously for Team USA, an American men’s podium sweep.

Torin Yater-Wallace, Gus Kenworthy and Taylor Seaton placed first through third, respectively, based on Wednesday’s qualifying competition, while Maddie Bowman scored a second place in the women’s event.

All four athletes gained an early advantage in the race to qualify for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Five selection events will be held – the majority of which are next season – and up to three athletes per gender can automatically make the Olympic team with two podium finishes at those events.

Yater-Wallace, a 2014 Olympian and 2013 world silver medalist, claimed his first world cup win since 2014 with a 92.33. It was his seventh career world cup podium and fourth victory. Kenworthy, the Olympic slopestyle silver medalist who won last year’s halfpipe at Mammoth, posted a 92.00 for his fifth halfpipe and sixth total world cup podium. 

Finishing third with a 90.00, Seaton earned his second-career podium. His first came in August 2013 in Cardrona, New Zealand. A week after winning X Games gold, Aaron Blunck completed Team USA’s domination of the top four men’s spots, narrowly missing his seventh career podium at 89.00.

Reigning Olympic champion Bowman won the second women’s qualifying heat with an 86.66 for her eighth career world cup podium, seven of which have come on U.S. snow. France’s Marie Martinod won by virtue of her first heat 94.00, while Japan’s Ayana Onozuka finished third with an 84.00. Brita Sigourney and Annalisa Drew gave Team USA three in the top five with scores of 82.00 and 80.33, respectively.