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Alex Hall Leads Three U.S. Men Into Wednesday’s Big Air Skiing Finals

By Bob Reinert | Feb. 07, 2022, 9:55 a.m. (ET)

Alex Hall performs a trick during the Men's Freestyle Skiing Freeski Big Air Qualification at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 7, 2022 in Beijing, China.

 

Big air skiing is making its Olympic debut this week in Beijing, and the U.S. men got off to a strong start.

Alex Hall led the way as three of the four U.S. men placed in the top 12 of Monday’s qualifier at Beijing’s Big Air Shougang to advance to Wednesday’s final, while on the women’s side Darian Stevens moved on to Tuesday’s women’s final.

Hall, who is coming off an X Games win in the event last month, got off to a fast start by qualifying in second place with a total of 180.25 points in his best two of three runs. Colby Stevenson finished in fifth place (174.25 points), while Mac Forehand (171.00) was eighth.

 

 

Birk Ruud of Norway, who won world cup titles in 2020 and 2021, was the top qualifier with 187.75 points. Ruud is chasing Norway’s 10th medal in freestyle skiing.

Among the American men, only Nick Goepper, a two-time Olympic medalist in slopestyle, failed to advance. However, with all of the big air skiers also competing in slopestyle at the Winter Games, Goepper will have another opportunity Feb. 14-15.

On the women’s side, Stevens, of Missoula, Montana, placed eighth in the qualifier with 152.00 points. The 25-year-old was the lone American to move on. Marin Hamill and Maggie Voisin were just out of the qualifying spots in 14th and 15th, while Caroline Claire finished 24th. Megan Oldham of Canada was the top women’s qualifier with 171.25 points.

The 23-year-old Hall, of Park City, Utah, said he was happy to get through the qualifier and was looking forward to the final.

“You can’t ask for much more,” said Hall, who finished 16th in slopestyle four years ago in PyeongChang. “It is going to be similarly epic on Wednesday. Hopefully, the conditions will be as good as they were today.

“I am sure it is going to be a really good show, and I am happy to be part of it. I am not really even thinking about it too much. I am just going to go out and ski and see what happens.”

Hall said he was pleased with the progress his sport has made in recent years.

“When you get a venue this good and a jump this good and everyone is having a good time, just feeding off each other, it’s just what happens naturally,” Hall said. “We all just push each other to do our best.”

Darian Stevens performs a trick during the Women's Freestyle Skiing Freeski Big Air Qualification at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 7, 2022 in Beijing, China.

 

Stevenson, 24 and also from Park City, is a 2021 world championships silver medalist in slopestyle. He also said he was pleased with his performance in qualifying.

“I’m happy,” Stevenson said. “To go out and land my two tricks clean and make the final, I couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Stevenson has a right to savor the day. He missed the 2018 Games with an injury and survived a 2016 auto accident in which he suffered a fractured skull.

“The car crash changed my perspective in life a long time ago,” Stevenson said. “But I’m just so in the moment now. That’s just a story from the past. It’s amazing to have come back from something so severe, but I just kind of go forward, focus on the moment and soak it all in.”

Stevenson’s sights are set on the final.

“It could be anyone’s day,” Stevenson said. “We are all going to go out there, throw down the biggest tricks we’ve ever done and have a good time.”

Only 20, Forehand, who had the best score of the second run with 92 points, said it will be tough to beat Ruud in the final.

“It’s going to take a lot,” Forehand, of Southport, Connecticut, said. “Birk is one of the best skiers in the world, especially in big air. He has got two pretty big tricks that will score really high.

“A lot of new tricks are going to be done in the final, so it’s exciting.”

Bob Reinert

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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