Grand Prix: Ferreira in, Yater-Wallace out after ski halfpipe qualifying; Canada’s Cassie Sharpe leads women
Aspen skier Alex Ferreira was able to post a strong score on his first run through the halfpipe during Wednesday’s qualifying round at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix in Snowmass, allowing him to sit out his second turn as the weather became an issue later in the afternoon.
Ferreira will be one of six Americans in Friday afternoon’s ski halfpipe final, which is the fourth of five U.S. Olympic team qualifiers. Not included on that list are Aspen skiers Torin Yater-Wallace and Cassidy Jarrell, both of whom fell short in qualifying.
Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck recorded the top score of the day, a 93.66, on his first run. Ferreira’s 88.33 was the best in his heat and third overall on the day.
A heavy fog set in toward the end of the first qualifying run, leading to an extended delay before the second runs were allowed to happen. Of the 10 finalists, only three were able to post better scores in their second run in the snowy conditions.
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Yater-Wallace, who entered as the U.S. Olympic-team front-runner based off points, scored 71.66 on his first run and 11 on his second to finish 15th. The 2014 Olympian is still looking for his second podium to objectively qualify for next month’s Olympic team, and will only have next week’s Mammoth Grand Prix to get it.
Jarrell, a newcomer to the pro stage, was 35th after posting 30 on his second run.
Ferreira, fresh off his win at Dew Tour, opted to skip his second run, as did Blunck, as both looked to be safely into finals after the first run. David Wise, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, scored 91.66 on his first run to finish second behind Blunck.
Canada’s Noah Bowman was fourth (87.33), Canada’s Mike Riddle fifth (85.33), Winter Park’s Birk Irving sixth (85), France’s Kevin Rolland seventh (83), Vail’s Taylor Seaton eighth (81.66), Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy ninth (79.33) and Switzerland’s Joel Gisler 10th (74.66).
Of the American finalists, only Irving doesn’t yet have an Olympic qualifying podium. Ferreira and Wise can confirm their Olympic team nomination with a win.
Sharpe holds off Bowman for top qualifying spot
Canada’s Cassie Sharpe followed her recent win at Dew Tour with a strong qualifying run Wednesday in the halfpipe. Her first-run score of 89 was enough to qualify first for Friday’s finals. The 2015 World Championships silver medalist and 2016 X Games Oslo gold medalist is expected to be named to Canada’s Olympic team.
Veteran Maddie Bowman, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist from Tahoe, scored 87.20 on her second run to finish second behind Sharpe. Bowman is a virtual lock for the Olympic team with two qualifying podiums already but could confirm her nomination by taking first or second Friday.
California’s Brita Sigourney was third in Wednesday’s qualifying with a second-run score of 86.40. Sigourney currently sits fourth in the U.S. Olympic team standings and is trying to hold off fellow Californian Carly Margulies, who is fifth in points. Margulies just snuck into Friday’s finals by placing eighth in qualifying with a score of 78.20.
Massachusetts native Annalisa Drew, who lives in Colorado, entered third in the Olympic team standings but will have to sit out the finals after her best qualifying run of 74.40 on Wednesday was only good for 11th place.
Vermont’s Devin Logan was fourth in qualifying with 84. She currently sits second to Bowman in terms of U.S. Olympic team qualification.
Also making their way into Friday’s finals are Japan’s Ayana Onozuka (82.2, fifth), Germany’s Sabrina Cakmakli (81, sixth) and Japan’s Yurie Watabe (79.4, seventh).
Along with Drew, notably missing from Friday’s finals will be China’s Kexin Zhang (69.80, 13th), the current World Cup leader; Winter Park teen Svea Irving (58, 17th); and France’s Marie Martinod (26.60, 30th). Martinod is the 2014 Olympic silver medalist who recently took second at Dew Tour.
Friday’s ski halfpipe finals are scheduled for 1 p.m. for both men and women.
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Aspen Skiing Co. and most of the Colorado ski industry were cruising along in a second strong season, until the coronavirus crisis forced their closure on March 14. Skier visits would typically be announced this week, but the ski industry is focused on forging ahead rather than looking back.