Gold medal threat McMorris struggles; more work needed to make final

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Canada’s Mark McMorris (pictured) will have to take a harder road in order to come away with the inaugural Olympic gold in snowboard slopestyle.

McMorris, who has been tagged as one of the major contenders but is nursing a broken rib, went down on his first qualifying run today and then bounced back on his second attempt with a score of 89.25. However, it wasn’t enough to vault him straight into the slopestyle final on Saturday – which will feature his fellow countrymen, Sebastien Toutant and Max Parrot.

The top four from each of today’s two qualifying heats made it into the final, and in Heat One, Toutant finished third behind Norway’s Staale Sandbech and Finland’s Peetu Piiroinen while coming ahead of fourth-place Jamie Nicholls from Great Britain.

But in Heat Two, Parrot bettered the 91.75 score on his first run with the best qualifying run overall in his second go, a 97.50. That was enough to top the heat ahead of Finland’s Roope Tonteri, Sweden’s Sven Thorgren, and Norway’s Gjermund Bratten.

MORE: Men’s slopestyle qualifying recap from the AT&T Olympic News Desk

Those eight are locked into the main event, while McMorris will have to compete for one of the last four spots early Saturday morning in the semi-final. That’s also true for the American trio of Chas Guldemond, Sage Kotsenburg and Ryan Stassel.

Guldemond came the closest to making the final among the members of Team USA, placing fifth in Heat One behind Nicholls. Kotsenburg and Stassel finished eighth and ninth respectively in Heat Two behind the seventh-place McMorris.

MEN’S SNOWBOARD SLOPESTYLE – QUALIFYING

HEAT ONE (Top four advance to final)
1. Staale Sandbech (NOR), 94.50
2. Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), 90.75
3. Sebastien Toutant (CAN), 87.25
4. Jamie Nicholls (GBR), 86.75
5. Chas Guldemond (USA), 86.00

HEAT TWO (Top four advance to final)
1. Max Parrot (CAN), 97.50
2. Roope Tonteri (FIN), 95.75
3. Sven Thorgren (SWE), 94.25
4. Gjermund Bratten (NOR), 91.25

7. Mark McMorris (CAN), 89.25
8. Sage Kotsenburg (USA), 86.50
9. Ryan Stassel (USA), 81.00