Shaun White and Chloe Kim, plus freeskiers and snowboarders seeking Olympic berths, take flight at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app starting Saturday.
White, a two-time Olympic champion, and Kim, a 16-year-old who already owns two X Games titles, head the halfpipe snowboarding fields at Mammoth. They’re looking to bounce back after being upset at the X Games last week.
White takes on a field including U.S. Olympic teammates Greg Bretz, Taylor Gold and Louie Vito, plus X Games winner Scotty James of Australia.
Kim will face a more daunting challenge in Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter and Sochi Olympian Arielle Gold.
While White and Kim build toward next season, Mammoth marks the first of five Olympic qualifiers for ski and snowboard slopestyle and ski halfpipe.
That means U.S. Olympic champions Jamie Anderson, Maddie Bowman, Joss Christensen and David Wise open their quests to qualify for PyeongChang this week. Sage Kotsenburg, the surprise first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is sitting out Mammoth as he decides whether he wants to make a run for PyeongChang.
Olympic qualifying in those three disciplines consists of five events for ski halfpipe and slopestyle and four events for snowboard slopestyle. The remaining events will be next season.
Each athlete’s top two results across qualifying will determine standings from which three athletes per gender per event can be named to the PyeongChang team. More athletes can be added based on discretionary selection by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association next January.Follow @nzaccardi