Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold gets bronze at Skate Canada

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U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold dropped from first after the short program to finish third at Skate Canada on Saturday, her first competition under new coach Frank Carroll.

Gold, 18, hit a triple-triple jump combination but also fell during her free skate at Saint John, New Brunswick. She led by 2.56 points after the short program Friday and finished 11.58 points behind Russian winner Julia Lipnitskaia.

Earlier Saturday, Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek jumped from second after the short program to win the pairs competition with 193.92 points, .15 better than Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.

Skate Canada, the second of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final, concludes later Saturday with the free dance (4:30 p.m. ET) and men’s free skate (7:10). Universal Sports will have coverage.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will have Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4-6.

Gold failed to put together back-to-back strong programs, just as she did at the U.S. Championships in January and World Championships in March. On Saturday, she opened her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination but later fell on one jump and stumbled on another.

Gold’s score, 186.65, was 7.16 points lower than U.S. champion Ashley Wagner‘s total at Skate America last week. Three women will make the U.S. Olympic Team after the U.S. Championships in Boston in January. Wagner and Gold are the top two contenders.

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Christina Gao, a Harvard student who has been fifth at the last four U.S. Championships, took fourth with 173.69 total points Saturday.

Gao landed all of her jumps but was missing a triple-triple combination skating to the “Angels and Demons” soundtrack.

Gao and Agnes Zawadzki, who is entered at Cup of China next week, are thought to be the top hopefuls behind Wagner and Gold for Olympic spots.

Another American, Courtney Hicks, moved up from ninth place (last) after the short program to finish sixth. Hicks upset Gold to win the U.S. International Classic last month.

Hicks, 17, was fourth at the U.S. Championships in January and an injury replacement for reigning Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim at Skate Canada.

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, 17, withdrew with a hamstring strain after finishing fifth in the short program Friday.

In pairs, favored Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford fell to third after leading the short program. Skate Canada was missing the Olympic gold- and silver-medal favorites from Russia and Germany.

Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier and Lindsay Davis and Rockne Brubaker were fifth and sixth, respectively, with scores far lower than the three U.S. pairs at Skate America last week.

Two U.S. pairs will go to the Olympics, where the U.S. hasn’t won a pairs medal since 1988.

Women
1. Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) 198.23
2. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) 193.75
3. Gracie Gold (USA) 186.65
4. Christina Gao (USA) 173.69
5. Amelie Lacoste (CAN) 163.11
6. Courtney Hicks (USA) 162.00
7. Natalia Popova (UKR) 145.88
8. Veronik Mallet (CAN) 138.13

Pairs
1. Berton/Hotarek (ITA) 193.92
2. Sui/Han (CHN) 193.77
3. Duhamel/Radford (CAN) 190.62
4. Lawrence/Swiegers (CAN) 159.82
5. Denney/Frazier (USA) 158.83
6. Davis/Brubaker (USA) 153.71
7. Vartmann/Van Cleave (GER) 149.59
8. Purdy/Marinaro (CAN) 131.39

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Gus Kenworthy qualifies for Olympic ski slopestyle team

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Two nights after taking a massive slam in the halfpipe, Gus Kenworthy bounced back to earn a spot on his second U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

Kenworthy placed second at the final Olympic qualifier for freeski slopestyle, which was held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain. That result, combined with a victory at a selection event last weekend, qualified him for the Olympic team.

It wasn’t the smoothest week for Kenworthy, who had been trying to make the U.S. team in both halfpipe and slopestyle.

During Friday night’s final qualifier for the ski halfpipe team, Kenworthy struggled to land a run and then had a hard crash on his final attempt.

On Saturday, he placed 58th out of 63 skiers in the preliminary round of a slopestyle selection event.

It was a different story on Sunday though.

By making the slopestyle team, Kenworthy will have another shot at an Olympic medal. He won a silver medal at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, where slopestyle made its debut, and was part of a podium sweep alongside Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper.

Earlier in the day, Goepper became the first skier to make the men’s slopestyle Olympic team. Because of weather delays throughout the week, Mammoth ended up hosting a pair of Olympic qualifiers on Sunday.

Goepper and Kenworthy were the only skiers to earn automatic nominations onto the men’s slopestyle Olympic team during the qualifying period. Two more skiers can still be added to the team as discretionary selections.

McRae Williams, the 2017 X Games silver medalist, has a strong case for one of those two spots. He finished sixth and fifth at Sunday’s two slopestyle qualifiers.

The other spot on the team looks a little more uncertain. Among the riders likely in consideration is Alex Hall, who was fourth at the final qualifier and is the next ranked skier in terms of qualifying points. It’s also possible that reigning Olympic gold medalist Joss Christensen, who just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL, could be in the discussion.

While Kenworthy is now assured a spot on the slopestyle team, he’s likely on the outside looking in for halfpipe. The three automatic spots have already been allocated to David Wise, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace, and the discretionary spot appears likely to go to Aaron Blunck.

Discretionary picks for both slopestyle and halfpipe are expected to be announced in the next few days.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:

1. Gus Kenworthy, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
3. McRae Williams, 95
4. Alex Hall, 95
5. Quinn Wolferman, 79
6. Bobby Brown, 68
7. Noah Wallace, 60
8. Joss Christensen, 60

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.

Nick Goepper becomes first skier to qualify for U.S. Olympic men’s slopestyle team

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The U.S. men’s freeski slopestyle team has its first member for PyeongChang.

Nick Goepper qualified for his second Olympic team on Sunday as the U.S. selection events start to draw to a close.

Goepper, who grew up learning to ski in Indiana, was on the podium earlier this year at two of the first three selection events for the ski slopestyle team, which enabled him to meet objective criteria for Olympic qualifying. Though he finished just eighth in the first of two Olympic qualifiers being held Sunday at Mammoth Mountain, he was able to secure his spot on the team because no other Americans finished on the podium.

At the last Olympics, where slopestyle made its debut, Goepper won a bronze medal. He was part of a historic medal sweep and was joined on the podium by Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy.

Those two are still looking to qualify.

Christensen just returned to competition last week after rehabbing from a torn ACL. After not making the final at either slopestyle qualifier last week, he finished seventh at Mammoth and could be in contention for a discretionary spot.

As for Kenworthy, he took a hard slam in Friday night’s halfpipe final and then did not advance out of Saturday’s preliminary round for slopestyle. He is slated to compete in another slopestyle qualifier, which will be held later today. Kenworthy can still clinch his spot on the Olympic team with a top-three finish in that one.

Another contender for the team is McRae Williams, who was the top U.S. skier at Mammoth with a sixth-place finish. Williams won a silver medal at X Games last year.

While the bronze medal and the U.S. podium sweep put Goepper in the spotlight in Sochi, he is hungry for more.

“To be completely honest, I was a bit frustrated with my result at first,” Goepper told NBC Olympics last year. “I really wanted to win that day, and I went there with all the confidence in the world and the expectation to be on the top. I definitely feel like I’ve got some unfinished business at the Winter Olympics.”

Olympic qualifying for the ski slopestyle team concludes with a second contest later today.

Kenworthy is the only one who could officially secure a nomination in that event, but all other skiers will still be looking to earn discretionary spots on the team, which are expected to be allocated next week.

Up to four men and four women can ultimately be named to the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team.

U.S. Qualifying Standings

Men’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 4 of 5 Events:
1. Nick Goepper, 160** (QUALIFIED)
2. Gus Kenworthy, 140*
3. McRae Williams, 90
4. Quinn Wolferman, 79
5. Alex Hall, 57
6. Bobby Brown, 56
7. Joss Christensen, 54
8. Willie Borm, 50

Women’s Freeski Slopestyle
After 5 of 5 Events:
1. Maggie Voisin, 180** (QUALIFIED)
2. Caroline Claire, 92*
3. Devin Logan, 90
4. Darian Stevens, 85
5. Taylor Lundquist, 81
6. Julia Krass, 72

**Has met qualifying minimum of two top-three finishes.
*Has one top-three finish.