Ski Big Air

Alex Hall lands 1800 for SunTrust Park ski big air title

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Ski big air makes its Olympic debut in Beijing in 2022. American Alex Hall is putting his name among the early favorites.

Hall, a 21-year-old born in Alaska and raised in Zurich, landed a switch left double 1800 on his third and final run to leap to victory at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park on Saturday night.

“I was so hyped,” Hall said on NBCSN. “That was the best jump of my life.”

Hall earned 97 points for the trick. Coupled with a 90.50 first run, he overtook Frenchman Antoine Adelisse by one point.

Hall, who in 2016 became the first to land a switch triple cork 1800 in big air, finished 16th in slopestyle at the PyeongChang Olympics as the last skier to make the four-man Olympic team (and the only teen). Since, he finished fourth in big air at the world championships and won an X Games Norway big air title.

On Saturday, he beat a field that included reigning X Games Aspen champion Birk Ruud of Norway. Two-time Olympic slopestyle medalist Nick Goepper was eliminated in qualifying.

Olympic slopestyle silver medalist Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland won Saturday’s women’s final that lacked an American.

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Big air event at Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park highlights Olympic sports weekend action

Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park Big Air
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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About 900,000 pounds of snow sit inside the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park, where the world’s best big air snowboarders and skiers will descend a 15-story ramp for a unique World Cup event Friday and Saturday.

NBCSN airs live coverage of snowboard finals Friday and ski finals Saturday, both at 7 p.m. ET. NBC airs coverage Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. All coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Each field features an Olympic champion: Americans Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard in snowboard and Norwegian Øystein Bråten, Swiss Sarah Höfflin and Canadian Dara Howell in ski.

Other big air events have been held at famous stadiums, including inside Fenway Park in 2016, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Stadiumthe San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park and outside the Rose Bowl.

In other sports, the men’s Alpine skiing World Cup has four straight days of races in Italy beginning with a super-G and downhill in Val Gardena on Friday and Saturday.

Americans Tommy Ford, coming off his first World Cup win in Beaver Creek, Colo., and double Olympic champion Ted Ligety are podium contenders in Alta Badia, where a giant slalom and parallel giant slalom are slated Sunday and Monday.

The women race a downhill and combined in Val d’Isere, France, on Saturday and Sunday. Mikaela Shiffrin was due to race speed at the venue for the first time in her career before withdrawing on Thursday. Italians Sofia Goggia and Federica Brignone are among the contenders.

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 5:30 a.m. Men’s SG — Val Gardena Olympic Channel
Saturday 4:15 a.m. Women’s DH – Val d’Isere Olympic Channel
5:45 a.m. Men’s DH — Val Gardena Olympic Channel
8:30 p.m.* Men’s DH — Val Gardena NBCSN
Sunday 7 a.m. Men’s GS – Alta Badia Olympic Channel
8 a.m. Women’s SC – Val d’Isere Olympic Channel
7:30 p.m.* Women’s SC – Val d’Isere NBCSN
Monday 12 p.m. Men’s PGS – Alta Badia Olympic Channel

*Delayed broadcast

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Gus Kenworthy switches from U.S. to Great Britain to honor his mom

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Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy will compete for Great Britain for what he says is his last Olympic cycle culminating with the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Kenworthy, a 2014 Olympic ski slopestyle silver medalist, finalized his switch from the U.S. to his birth nation, announcing the move in Great Britain on Tuesday. The process has been in the works for months and was approved by U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

His reasoning: first to honor his mom, who is British, and to take “a path of less resistance” to qualifying for the Olympics.

“I feel like these are going to be my last Olympic Games for sure. I just wanted to do it for my mom,” he said. “She’s held up the American flag for me for two Games now, and I would love to be able to hold up the British flag for her for one.

“This gives me an advantage in terms of qualifying and having less to worry about, less people I’m up against, just being able to focus on the tricks that I want to be working on, the runs that I want to do, put me in the best position to hopefully get another medal and not have to kill my body trying to qualify in multiple disciplines right before the Games against the U.S. guys.”

Kenworthy, part of a U.S. slopestyle medals sweep in Sochi, is a dual citizen, born in Chelmsford, about 30 miles northeast of London. He moved to the U.S. at age 2 but, as he grew up, made yearly trips across the Atlantic to see his mom’s extended family.

For his last Olympics, Kenworthy hopes to qualify in three events — ski slopestyle, halfpipe and the new Olympic event of big air. In past Olympic cycles, qualifying for the U.S. teams in slope and pipe meant competing at five contests per discipline in the two months before the Winter Games.

Kenworthy noted that in 2014, he was passed over for the fourth and final Olympic spot in halfpipe for the injured Torin Yater-Wallace (chosen by committee) despite finishing fourth in qualifying. In 2018, he was sixth in qualifying for halfpipe, crashing hard at the last selection event.

Kenworthy will put more focus on halfpipe as he returns to competition in full this winter, highlighted by a Winter X Games Aspen appearance in late January.

He has competed just once since the PyeongChang Olympics. He was 12th in the 12-man final in South Korea, skiing with a broken thumb and after having six vials of blood drained from his hip.

“I thought maybe I was going to be done after this last Olympics,” said Kenworthy, who come 2022 will be 30, two years older than any previous Olympic male slopestyle skier. “Was predicted to get a medal and was favored for a medal and thought that I was going to get a medal, and it just didn’t work out for me. I think I got in my own head and kind of had a lot of the pressure internalized and expectations from people. I was also battling injuries, this huge hematoma in my hip, and just didn’t ski the way I wanted to ski in the final, and it made it really hard to walk away — not even like not getting a medal. Had I left it all out there and felt like I had done my best, I think I could have walked away with my head held high. I did do my best, but it was not my best performance.”

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