Torin Yater-Wallace is getting another shot at an Olympic medal; Alex Ferreira is getting his first.
Yater-Wallace, who in 2011 was the youngest medalist in Winter X Games history, and Ferreira qualified for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team in halfpipe skiing Friday night at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in California.
They join David Wise, the defending Olympic gold medalist, who secured his Olympic berth last week.
Kyle Smaine won in Mammoth with a third-run score of 92.20, with Ferreira second in 90.40 and Yater-Wallace third with an 89.20. Ferreira and Yater-Wallace qualified for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 by earning two podium finishes throughout the five selection events. Friday was Smaine’s first podium of the qualifying series. 2014 Olympian Aaron Blunck had also earned two podiums, but Wise, Yater-Wallace and Ferreira beat him out in the tiebreaker.
One additional man, chosen by discretionary procedures, will join them.
The evening was not without its drama as Gus Kenworthy, a contender for the Olympic team in both halfpipe and slopestyle and reigning Olympic slopestyle silver medalist, crashed on his third and final run and needed help leaving the pipe.
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Yater-Wallace, 22, knows something about drama as well.
He fought back from a collapsed lung to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
His story gets even scarier.
The Aspen, Colorado native is the subject of the newly release documentary “Back to Life: The Torin Yater-Wallace Story” that chronicles his mother's cancer diagnosis and his deadly liver infection that caused him to be hospitalized for 20 days – 10 of which were spent in an induced coma – in 2015. He lost 20 pounds and two months of training, yet six weeks after being medically cleared to ski, won gold at X Games Oslo.
Now, he’s headed to PyeongChang.
Ferreira, the world cup points leader from Aspen, Colorado known for his technical prowess and amplitude, is a three-time X Games medalist and just missed out on the 2014 Olympic team, finishing fifth in the rankings while four men went.
This season has been a redemption of sorts as well after he was forced to pull out of last season’s X Games with a sprained ankle.
Ferreira hit his stride this season when he crushed his final run at Dew Tour in December to pass good friend Blunck for the win in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.