Annalisa Drew

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Alex Ferreira wins first ski halfpipe event of season

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Six months after winning the final World Cup competition of the 2016/17 season, Alex Ferreira is picking up right where he left off.

Ferreira won this season’s first major freeski halfpipe contest, which was held at Cardrona on Friday as part of Winter Games New Zealand and also doubled as a World Cup event. His winning run, which included forward double cork 1260s in both directions, showcased the signature amplitude that has helped turn him into a legitimate contender.

A native of Colorado, Ferreira is one of many skiers who will be vying to make the U.S. Olympic team later this winter. (Qualifying, which got underway last winter, resumes in December.) The U.S. roster for freeski halfpipe is extremely deep, with reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise, 2017 X Games champion Aaron Blunck, Torin Yater-Wallace, Gus Kenworthy, Taylor Seaton, Lyman Currier and Birk Irving among the other top hopefuls. Only a maximum of four skiers will make the team, either through direct qualification or a discretionary selection.

Of the U.S. skiers listed above, only Ferreira, Blunck and Irving competed in New Zealand. However, many of the top international skiers were in the field, including Canada’s Mike Riddle (the 2014 Olympic silver medalist) and France’s Kevin Rolland (the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist). Rolland ended up finishing second behind Ferreira at Winter Games NZ, and Simon d’Artois of Canada took third. Though Rolland had back-to-back double cork 1260s at the end of his run, he was only able to get in four tricks overall, while others, including Ferreira, were able to squeeze a fifth hit into their runs.

Four Americans in total reached the men’s final. Blunck finished fourth, Hunter Hess placed seventh, and Irving was eighth.

The women’s halfpipe contest was won by Canadian freeskier Cassie Sharpe. Estonia’s Kelly Sildaru landed in second, and France’s Marie Martinod rounded out the podium.

It’s a notable result for Sildaru, as the 15-year-old rising star has been dominating the slopestyle scene in recent years and was already pegged as the Olympic favorite in that event. Although she became the junior world champion in halfpipe back in March, she was relatively untested against top halfpipe skiers until now.

The top American was Annalisa Drew, who finished fourth. Carly Margulies (5th), Maddie Bowman (6th) and Brita Sigourney (10th) also cracked the top ten. Bowman is the reigning Olympic champion on the women’s side.

Men’s Freeski Halfpipe
1. Alex Ferreira (USA), 93.40
2. Kevin Rolland (FRA), 90.20
3. Simon d’Artois (CAN), 88.60
4. Aaron Blunck (USA), 87.20
5. Miguel Porteous (NZL), 86.80

Women’s Freeski Halfpipe
1. Cassie Sharpe (CAN), 91.00
2. Kelly Sildaru (EST), 90.20
3. Marie Martinod (FRA), 84.40
4. Annalisa Drew (USA), 82.80
5. Carly Margulies (USA), 81.00

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MORE: Joss Christensen must battle back from major injury to defend Olympic title

Ski halfpipe, slopestyle teams include youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972

Maggie Voisin
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The youngest U.S. Olympians in recent history include gold medalists Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and Tara Lipinski, who were all 15 years old for their Olympic debuts.

Maggie Voisin will beat them by a matter of days in Sochi.

Voisin, who turned 15 on Dec. 14, was one of six additional freestyle skiing athletes nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team on Tuesday. The three slopestyle skiers, two halfpipe skiers and one ski cross racer join the athletes who already clinched berths via objective criteria.

Here’s the full list of U.S. Olympians in ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle and ski cross:

Ski Halfpipe
Aaron Blunck
Lyman Currier
Torin Yater-Wallace — new nomination
David Wise
Maddie Bowman
Annalisa Drew — new nomination
Brita Sigourney
Angeli VanLaanen

Yater-Wallace was named after not competing in any of the five Olympic selection events. He broke two ribs in a practice crash in Breckenridge, Colo., on Dec. 14, a few weeks after suffering a collapsed lung.

Yater-Wallace likely earned his spot as the reigning world and Winter X Games silver medalist. If healthy, he’ll be a gold-medal contender with Wise, who is the reigning world and Winter X Games gold medalist.

Ski Slopestyle
Bobby Brown
Joss Christensen — new nomination
Nick Goepper
Gus Kenworthy
Keri Herman
Julia Krass — new nomination
Devin Logan
Maggie Voisin — new nomination

Christensen was named after winning the final Olympic selection event. He was chosen to the team over the last two world champions, Tom Wallisch and Alex Schlopy.

Voisin is the youngest U.S. Winter Olympian since 1972, when two 14-year-old speed skaters competed — Kay Lunda and Connie Carpenter-Phinney. She’s the youngest U.S. Winter or Summer Olympian since 1996, overtaking Phelps, who was 15 years and two months old in 2000.

Ski Cross
John Teller — new nomination

Teller, 30, will hope to win the first U.S. medal in ski cross, which joined the Olympic program in 2010. He is the reigning world bronze medalist and just missed the 2010 Olympic Team, which included fellow converted Alpine skiers Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, who were eliminated before the quarterfinals.

Teller has also been an auto mechanic and high school football coach. The U.S. did not send any women to the 2010 Olympics in ski cross and did not qualify any for Sochi, either.

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