Olenick aiming for freeskiing gold
COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. Taylor Felton isn’t taking his spot in today’s U.S. Freeskiing Open slopestyle semifinals for granted.The Breckenridge skier advanced past Thursday’s qualifying round by claiming the eighth and final spot in the fourth heat with a best-run score of 73.75.”It’s super hard man,” Felton said when asked about the difficulty of finishing ahead of 63 non-qualifiers. “I think everyone should have to qualify personally, because you never know who’s going to do well and who isn’t.”Felton is one of 32 qualifiers (from both Wednesday and Thursday) who will join 23 pre-qualified pros in today’s semifinals.Sean Logan was the top qualifier in the fourth heat with a score of 87.5.”It was real nice,” Logan said when asked to size up the Catalyst Terrain Park slopestyle course. “The jumps are kind of small for what kind of contest it is, but it flows real well, the rails are good, and there’s nothing too ridiculously hard. I think it’s good for everyone.”Logan, who made it to last year’s semifinals, but narrowly missed out on the finals, was clearly pleased to be qualifying under bluebird conditions.”Half the field wasn’t able to hit all three jumps,” he said in reference to Wednesday’s snowy conditions.Two big-name, prequalified skiers were on hand to watch Thursday’s action – Charles Gagnier and Peter Olenick. Both athletes, who were watching their younger brothers compete, are fresh off competing in Aspen at Winter X Games 12.Olenick, the only halfpipe skier ever to land a double flip in competition, seemed glad to have the marquee event behind him.”I like it better having [the U.S. Open] after X games,” said the Carbondale local, who will compete in today’s slopestyle final and Sunday’s pipe final. “In years past, I’ve kind of been holding back at the Open because I don’t want to get hurt before X games. Now it’s over, so I can move onto other goals for the season.”Such as?”Winning the U.S. Open,” Olenick said matter of factly.Today’s U.S. Open action begins with the women’s slopestyle semis at 9:15 a.m., followed by the men’s semifinals (two heats) from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The women’s final is set for 1:30 p.m., followed by the men’s final at 2:15 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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