Aspen’s Alex Ferreira, Torin Yater-Wallace soar into Olympic ski pipe finals
men’s ski halfpipe finals qualifiers
1. Aaron Blunck, USA 94.40
2. Alex Ferreira, USA 92.60
3. Torin Yater-Wallace, USA 89.60
4. Byron Wells, NZL 88.60
5. Beau-James Wells, NZL 88.20
6. Kevin Rolland, FRA 87.80
7. Mike Riddle, CAN 82.20
8. David Wise, USA 79.60
9. Noah Bowman, CAN 77.20
10. Thomas Krief, FRA 74.40
11. Nico Porteous, NZL 72.80
12. Andreas Gohl, AUT 68.60
Leaving little to doubt, Aspen skiers Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace threw down in spectacular fashion Tuesday in the qualifying round of the Olympic men’s halfpipe competition at Phoenix Snow Park in South Korea.
Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck scored 94.40 on his second run to lead qualifying, with Ferreira coming in second and Yater-Wallace third to send the American trio and close friends into Thursday’s finals, which will air live on Wednesday night in Colorado.
Yater-Wallace, competing in his second Winter Olympics, set the bar high early with an 89.60 on his first run in the two-run qualifier. Ferreria, a first-time Olympian followed only a few skiers later with a 92.60, the top score after the first run.
The fourth American, reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise of Nevada, scored 79.60 on his second run after crashing on his first to finish eighth in qualifying. The top 12 of the 27 who competed in qualifying will compete in finals.
Four years ago in Sochi, Russia, an injury-riddled Yater-Wallace failed to make it out of the qualifying round but delivered Tuesday in Pyeongchang.
“It was unreal,” Yater-Wallace said after Tuesday’s qualifier. “Putting the first run down regardless of the circumstances is always an amazing feeling. And obviously I had some unfortunate instances that I have dealt with that just added to that feeling, and it was just such a relief to land that first one after my less than stellar performance in Sochi dealing with my lungs and ribs back then. Unreal to just land that first run.”
Ferreira was the first person left off the U.S. Olympic team in 2014, but left little to chance this winter, highlighted by his win at Dew Tour. He’s optimistic that the Americans can sweep the finals podium in Korea.
“Yes, it’s definitely a possibility,” Ferreira said Tuesday. “The other countries, respectively, are amazing as well. I just hope everyone skis to their full ability and we showcase halfpipe skiing on the world’s biggest stage in a great light.”
New Zealand’s Byron Wells qualified fourth while his brother, Beau-James Wells, was fifth. France’s Kevin Rolland, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, was sixth, and Canada’s Mike Riddle, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, was seventh.
Rounding out the qualifying skiers were Canada’s Noah Bowman, France’s Thomas Krief, New Zealand’s Nico Porteous and Austria’s Andreas Gohl.
Canada’s Simon D’Artois, probably the most notable name to not make finals, was one spot out in 13th.
Ed Stoner of the Vail Daily contributed to this report.