slopestyle snowboarding

Double sweep for U.S. men and women in snowboard slopestyle at Mammoth Grand Prix

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Reigning Olympic champion Jamie Anderson outscored her teenage teammates to claim gold in women’s snowboard slopestyle at the U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Anderson won the competition, the first Olympic selection event, with a second-run score of 80.25. She was joined on the podium by 16-year-old Hailey Langland and 19-year-old Julia Marino.

At last weekend’s X Games, Anderson finished second behind Marino, while Langland placed fourth.

American rookies took the top spots in the men’s slopestyle event as well, with 16-year-old Redmond Gerard scoring 87.95 to place first. Kyle Mack and Dylan Thomas completed the double sweep for U.S. snowboarders.

Gerard felt a few nerves before what turned out to be his first major title, and told U.S. Snowboarding, “When I was in the rail section I was like, ‘this jump section is going to be gnarly, I’m terrified right now!’ It turned out to be fine—just trust your landing and trust your skills and you’re good to go.”

Besides Anderson, all five medalists would be first-time Olympians if named to the U.S. Olympic team for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. The Grand Prix in Mammoth is the first of five competitions used to select the snowboarding slopestyle team. A maximum of three male and three female snowboarders can earn automatic berths onto the Olympic with podium finishes at these qualifying events.

In the women’s ski slopestyle event, Maggie Voisin won gold and was the only American to make it onto the podium. Devin Logan, Olympic silver medalist in the event, placed fourth.

Voisin was named to the 2014 Olympic team but wasn’t able to compete in Sochi due to an ankle injury sustained in practice.

The men’s ski slopestyle event was cancelled due to deteriorating conditions on Sunday afternoon.

MORE: Torin Yater-Wallace, Maddie Bowman lead U.S. skiers onto halfpipe podium at Olympic qualifier

 

Preview: Slopestyle snowboarders looking to make Olympic history

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Slopestyle snowboarding will be hitting the big time in Sochi as the discipline makes its Olympic debut as one of two new snowboarding events alongside parallel slalom. However, it has not been a smooth beginning.

Medal threat Torstein Horgmo of Norway broke his collarbone in a training crash and was knocked out of the Olympics (he later said he blames himself, not the challenging Rosa Khutor course for the injury). Another contender, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White of the U.S., jammed his wrist Tuesday and then bowed out this morning to focus solely on attaining his third consecutive Olympic gold in the halfpipe.

His training incident occurred shortly before a female rider from Finland sustained a concussion after she fell and hit her head at the end of a run.

Changes have since been made to the course, which had no test event prior to the Olympics. The ones who hit the podium in Sochi will likely be the quickest learners.

EVENT SCHEDULE
Tomorrow – Men’s qualification, 1 a.m. ET; Women’s qualification, 4 a.m. ET
Saturday – Men’s semifinal, 12:30 a.m. ET; Men’s final, 3:45 a.m. ET
Sunday – Women’s semifinal, 1:30 a.m. ET; Women’s final, 4:15 a.m. ET

TV SCHEDULE
Tomorrow – Men’s/women’s, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Saturday – Men’s final, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Sunday – Women’s final, 7 p.m. ET, NBC

MORE: Photo gallery of the 2014 U.S. Olympic snowboarding team

U.S. OUTLOOK
With White gone, the Americans will feature Sage Kotsenburg, Chas Guldemond, and Ryan Stassel. Kotsenburg won the last of five Olympic qualifier events and both he and Guldemond are former X Games medalists. As for Stassel, he also took a victory during the qualifier series.

Leading the U.S. women is a potential gold medalist in Jamie Anderson. Regarded as one of the best female slopestyle riders out there, she enters the Games after winning four of five Olympic qualifiers. 16-year-old Ty Walker is the youngest U.S. snowboarder at Sochi but has already developed a solid reputation but is dealing with multiple injuries of her own and concedes that she’s looking ahead to Sunday’s semifinal for her chance to qualify into the final. Jessika Jenson and Karly Shorr each earned two podiums in the qualifiers.

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK
Horgmo’s injury and White’s decision to focus on halfpipe may have cleared the way for a Canadian sweep of the men’s podium. Mark McMorris was the gold medal favorite but isn’t 100 percent as he deals with a fractured rib. If that slows him down, fellow countrymen Max Parrot (the new X Games champ) and Sebastien “Seb Toots” Toutant are talented enough to win.

Another Canadian, 2013 world champion Spencer O’Brien, should provide a stiff challenge to Anderson for the women’s gold. Also in the hunt are Norway’s Silje Norendal, who beat Anderson for the X Games title last month, and Australia’s Torah Bright, who will also compete in halfpipe and snowboard cross.

Shaun White jams wrist in slopestyle training run; female rider suffers concussion

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The challenging Olympic slopestyle course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park has already taken out one favorite, and another contender had his own problems on it today: Team USA snowboarder Shaun White (pictured).

The two-time Olympic gold medalist jammed his left wrist in a fall one day after Norway’s Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone in training and was subsequently ruled out of the Sochi Games.

However, White’s injury was relatively minor compared to the concussion sustained by female snowboarder Marika Enne of Finland after she fell and hit her head at the end of a run. She was taken off the course on a stretcher.

White, who’s also gunning for a third consecutive gold in the halfpipe in Sochi in addition to competing in slopestyle, said it’s been frustrating to witness the training incidents.

“It puts a damper on the whole mood and it’s kind of like you’re getting ready to do a big trick and you see something like that,” he said according to the Associated Press.

“Intimidating. Unfortunate. I’m hoping the builders can make some changes and the course has a little more of a friendly vibe. But I can’t change the course. Just doing the best I can.”

MORE: Beating Shaun White boosts Greg Bretz’s confidence heading into Sochi

Injuries are becoming a common thread among the favorites in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle competition.

In addition to Horgmo’s broken collarbone and White’s jammed wrist (not to mention the right shoulder injury he got in an Olympic qualifier event), Canada’s Mark McMorris is entering Sochi after breaking a rib in an incident at the Winter X Games last month in Aspen.

For his part, McMorris does not believe the course is an especially problematic one and noted that the sport altogether will always carry a risk for its competitors.

“I don’t think it’s dangerous,” he told the AP. “Snowboarding’s dangerous. But crossing the street is dangerous, too.”

After Horgmo was injured yesterday, officials met with male and female riders to discuss possible tweaks to the slopestyle course.