David Wise and Maddie Bowman won the first Olympic ski halfpipe golds in Sochi. On Friday, they became the first U.S. halfpipe skiers to qualify for PyeongChang.
Wise won for the second time in the first four Olympic qualifiers, this time as part of an American sweep.
Bowman finished fourth in Snowmass, Colo., but she clinched her Olympic spot from having two podiums in the previous three qualifiers.
Neither Wise nor Bowman has to sweat out the fifth and final qualifier next week.
Sochi slopestyle silver medalist Gus Kenworthy can’t say the same. He finished seventh Friday, after placing second, 11th and 17th in the first three halfpipe qualifiers.
Kenworthy fell on his first hit on two of his three runs, with one of his skis falling off on the landing both times.
Kenworthy must finish first or second next week to have a shot at automatic halfpipe qualification.
If he doesn’t, Kenworthy will put himself in the same position as four years ago, hoping a committee uses one available spot to put him on the team.
Kenworthy was left off four years ago in favor of Torin Yater-Wallace but of course still qualified in slopestyle.
Alex Ferreira and Aaron Blunck finished second and third on Friday to reach the automatic Olympic qualification minimum but can’t clinch a berth until next week.
Still, they’re both ahead of Kenworthy. As is Yater-Wallace, who won the first Olympic qualifier last February but didn’t make the final in Snowmass.
A maximum of four U.S. men can make the Olympic ski halfpipe team.
Kenworthy competes in a slopestyle qualifier Sunday in Snowmass. A full broadcast schedule is here.
Wise, 27, went three years between victories when he won an Olympic qualifier last month, according to TeamUSA.org.
The father of two struggled last season with a back injury and concussion but now looks like an Olympic medal favorite again.
Bowman, who turned 24 on Wednesday, is going back to the Olympics after a trying four years.
She underwent May 2014 left knee surgery, then tore her right ACL in January 2015. Still, she managed to win her third and fourth straight Winter X Games titles in 2015 and 2016.
Last season, Bowman’s streak was snapped by Frenchwoman Marie Martinod, who returned from a five-year break to win Olympic silver in 2014.
Martinod, a 33-year-old mom, made the podium in all of her events last season, including titles at X Games and the Olympic test event in South Korea.
This season, Bowman and Martinod have gone head-to-head four times, with Martinod finishing higher at every event until she was eliminated in qualifying this week.
But the most impressive skier this season has been Canadian Cassie Sharpe, who would have won Friday with any of the scores from her three runs — 91.60, 90.8 and 93.2. Sharpe also won the previous U.S. Olympic qualifier last month.
Bowman will be joined on the U.S. Olympic team by Sochi ski slopestyle silver medalist Devin Logan and Sochi Olympian Brita Sigourney, should they finish on the podium next week.
Even if they don’t, Logan and Sigourney have the best resumés of the remaining U.S. women. The team will include three or four women.
U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Ski Halfpipe (through four of five events)
1. David Wise — 200** QUALIFIED
2. Alex Ferreira — 180** (1st and 2nd)
3. Aaron Blunck — 140** (2nd and 3rd)
4. Torin Yater-Wallace — 150* (1st and 4th)
5. Gus Kenworthy — 116* (2nd and 7th)
1. Maddie Bowman — 140** QUALIFIED
2. Devin Logan — 130* (2nd and 4th)
2. Brita Sigourney — 130* (2nd and 4th)
4. Annalisa Drew — 95 (4th and 5th)
5. Carly Margulies — 72 (6th and 7th)
**Has automatic qualifying minimum of two top-three results.
*Has one top-three result.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nzaccardi