The penultimate and ultimate US Olympic Team qualifiers are going down back to back in Mammoth this weekend; the first of which was also an official FIS World Cup event, meaning plenty of international competition for the potential US qualifiers. At the end of the morning only Caroline Claire made the podium from the US (in what was actually the final Women's Qualifier, but the penultimate Men's event). That mixes things up on the ladies' front and things are definitely hanging in the balance for men's team qualification before the second slopestyle of the day this afternoon.
Yesterday, an insanely stacked field of 60+ skiers was whittled down to just 16 for finals. Safe to say then, the technical standard in finals was through the roof. Teal Harle always has some interesting rotations and today was no exception. A big flat/rodeo 7 off the quarterpipe/sidehit feature was a highlight, as was a tweaked take on a dub 12 truck in a run good enough for 90.6 and the lead. Russ Henshaw became the first skier I've ever seen to abandon his poles mid-run, having lost one on the first jump hit and decided to go no-poles rather than just one for the last two jumps. Jesper Tjader did a ridiculous frontflip out of the cannon tube but he only scored mid-70s.
Other highlight runs:
- Oscar Wester: 2 pretz 2, lip 4, switch 2 continuing 6, kang, sw right dub 9, forward dub 14 blunt but he only scored 86.0 (second place at the time).
- Joss Christensen: sw lip 2 continuing 2, lip 2 continuing 2, mirrored switch 2 continuing, rodeo 9, switch left dub 10, switch right dub 10 (88.4 and second).
- Andri Ragettli: sw right 2 continuing 2, front swap pretz 4, back 630 cannon rail, right dub 12, switch dub misty 12, triple 14 (92.6) for a commanding lead.
- Evan McEachran: 4 on to switch, switch tails front four (DD), bs surface swap-cork 4 cannon, dub flat 7, right dub 12 safety, switch left dub 12 (91.4).
- Teale Harle was on one today: right 2 continuing 2, switch left 4 forwards, misty 630 cannon, rodeo 7 (screaming?), right dub 12, left dub 14 (94.4) to take the lead.
- Noah Morrison put down a super clean run, crazy on the style but slightly lacking on the tech. His right dub 12 to switch left dub 10 (super late last 180) combo was one of my favorite jump combos to look at on the day but the score was only 80.2.
- Bobby Brown: right 2 continuing 2, switch left 2 disaster switch, switch on underflip out (cannon), left rodeo 7, dub 12, switch dub 12 (87.2).
- Jonas Hunziker: left lip 2 continuing 2, switch left 2 pretz 2, switch right 2 continuing 4, switch 9, right dub 10, left dub 12. (87.4)
- Elias Ambuhl: actually put a switch 'butter' (revert, super early and no flex) in his run which is pretty questionable for elite level slopestyle (duly scored a 74).
- Joss sadly lost a ski on his final jump meaning he couldn't bump himself from fourth (at the time).
- Felix Usterud: right 2 continuing 2, switch lip 2 disaster forward, left 2 continuing 2, left 9 mute, switch right dub 10, switch left dub 14 (89.6).
- Andri Ragettli: almost got the triple 16 round on the final jump but skidded his landing out killing his score.
- McRae Williams: right 2 continuing 2, left 4 disaster, left 2 continuing 4, flat/rodeo 9, switch right dub 10, switch left 14 blunt (super nice grab) (88.6).
- Evan McEachran: threw an insane 4 on pretz 2 on the first downrail but sadly lost a ski on the cannon rail.
- Jesper Tjader: switch right 2 continuing 4, switch left 2 disaster, frontflip japan cannon, 'left' dub flat, right dub 12, switch blender right dub 14 (88.0 for fifth).
Top 3 Men's Runs
In all, it was a pretty fun contest to watch and the middle qp to jump landing feature definitely shook things up a bit. Teal Harle is rad, so it's always cool to see him top a podium though I could see some potential controversy around that scoring. So many of the runs were so similar that it must have been crazy to judge this one. Jesper's run was possibly my favourite though I'm guessing that his left dub flat wasn't considered enough of a leftside spin for the judges... switch blender right dub 14 though! In terms of the US Team sub-contest, Nick Goepper looks pretty locked in for an Olympic spot but everything else is pretty open with most of the guys struggling for the requisite podium finishes. It's anyone's game going in to the final event this afternoon with that podium likely to determine the remaining spots.
Caroline Claire put down a smooth run, highlighted by a switch 5 octograb to start off the day, a run which would ultimately land her third on the podium. Taylor Lundquist brings seriously dope style to ladies competition. Her first run had a squeaky clean 2-on to the top 'handrail' (single barrel), backed up by a blind surface swap on the high fat tube and a decent showing on the jumps with a smooth 7 stale but unfortunately had a missed grab on the qp feature. Tiril Sjastad-Christiansen killed it in the run immediately after Taylor with a 2-on-2-off up top and a right 9 blunt at the bottom to go clear first. Jennie Lee-Burmansson is leading the overall World Cup for a reason and she's another one with style that's easy on the eyes. She threw down on the rails too with a front swap to switch on the dfd to switch on, blind 270 tail on the high fat tube in a run good enough for second.
Taylor cleaned up her first run: 2-on, straight slide dfd, blind surface high fat tube, right 5 safety, switch 5 tail, forward 7 cuban but it was still only good enough for fifth. Jennie-Lee put down a super smooth run to round out the contest: 2-on to forwards, front 2 out of the dfd, switch on, blind 2 blunt, left 5 blunt, switch left 5 tweaked safety, right 5 mute. That was good enough to bump her second place score, but not good enough to topple Tiril from first.
Top 3 Ladies' Runs
The results shake things up for the Ladies US team qualification as Caroline Claire was previously only sixth in the standings. A podium finish will definitely put her in contention for the coaches' discretionary slot, along with Taylor who finished up fifth.