The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced its full rosters of freeski and snowboard team members this week. One notable absence on the star-studded list of Olympic athletes and X Games competitors was Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
When asked about White, ski and snowboard team spokesman Tom Kelly said in an email, “Shaun rides independently from the U.S. Snowboarding team. Just his choice. There’s no requirement that you need to be a part of the team.” Kelly added that it does not have an impact on the team selection process, which will be determined in part by results from the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Dec.12-15, and the four-stop Sprint U.S. Grand Prix which starts at Copper Mountain Resort, Dec. 16-22.
White has been on the two previous U.S. Olympic teams, but reportedly does not participate with the U.S. team outside of the Olympics.
“He’s definitely training for Sochi,” team press officer Doug Haney said of White. “The Olympic Team will be named after the final Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain in January.”
Beyond White, the list of 68 U.S. team athletes — split among the freeski and snowboarding half-pipe and slopestyle teams — is essentially a who’s who of Americans in the extreme sports world.
Each of the team’s members, along with White and others in the upper echelon of the sport, will be competing for four spots in each of the freeskiing and snowboarding disciplines.
“It’s such an exciting time for U.S. snowboarding right now with next-level half-pipe runs and the slopestyle team getting its first shot at Olympic medals,” U.S. freeskiing and snowboarding head coach Mike Jankowski said.
The list of snowboarders includes Olympic medalist and Aspen native Gretchen Bleiler, along with fellow medalists and decorated X Games competitors Kelly Clark and Scotty Lago.
Freeskiing half-pipe and slopestyle and snowboard slopestyle will be new events in the Olympics when the games open in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Acclaimed half-pipe skier Simon Dumont and Breckenridge natives Bobby Brown and Duncan Adams are on the list of men’s freeskiing competitors, joining World Champion Tom Wallisch and a handful of X Games medalists.
Maddie Bowman, and Breck’s Keri Herman will lead the way for the freeskiing women along with Team Breck alumna Emilia Wint.
“This is an exciting and historic time with freeskiers heading to the Olympics to showcase half-pipe and slopestyle for the first time,” Jankowski said.
Road to Sochi goes through Summit
The freeski and snowboard teams will practice on the Olympic-size half-pipe at Copper Mountain, along with other national teams, leading up to the Dew Tour in December. The pipe at Copper is the only full-size half-pipe currently open in North America. It opened for the season Wednesday, Nov. 27.
Blieler and select members of the U.S. teams will be making a public appearance at Woodward at Copper at 5 p.m. Saturday as a part of the “Woodward Remix” festivities — celebrating the indoor training facility’s renovation and reopening.