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.
'@TeamUSA's Alexander Hall really said 🔁🔁🔁🔁🔁.— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 7, 2022
Five full rotations, an 1800, on his first run of Big Air! #WinterOlympics | #WatchWithUS
📺 : @USA_Network and @peacockTV
💻 : https://t.co/DaRR18atEa pic.twitter.com/qfd16nRAji
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.”