Tuesday was clearly Team USA’s day in the men’s Olympic halfpipe skiing qualification, as Americans claimed half of the top eight spots going into the medal round, including the top three. The final will be held Thursday at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
In the two-run event, where each skier’s best score counted and the top 12 advanced to the final, Aaron Blunck, from Crested Butte, Colorado, laid down an untouchable second run, scoring 94.40, to claim first place. Teammates Alex Ferreira scored 92.60 for second, Torin Yater-Wallace sits in third with 89.60 and Dave Wise checked in eighth with 79.60.
Wise, the defending gold medalist who won the event’s Olympic debut, needed a strong second run to advance after a first-run score of 24.80. Blunck also had overcome a low-scoring first run, 63.20, to vault to the top by the end of qualification.
Yater-Wallace and Ferreira had an easier time sailing into the final, laying down their high-scoring performances in their first runs.
But all scores are now erased, as everybody in the final field starts fresh for the last two runs to win a medal. The last group is experienced, as all of the 2014 medalists reached in 2018 final: Wise, Canada’s Mike Riddle (silver) and France’s Kevin Rolland (bronze).
Joanne C. Gerstner has covered two Olympic Games and writes regularly for The New York Times and other outlets about sports. She has written for TeamUSA.org since 2009 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.