Summit’s Gerard and Corning advance to Olympic final in men’s snowboard slopestyle
Fitzsimons is top American, finishing in 3rd
Summit County’s Chris Corning and Red Gerard headlined the start of men’s snowboarding at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games as they competed in slopestyle qualifiers Saturday, Feb. 5.
Gerard returned to the event as the reigning champion after capturing gold as a 17-year-old at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, while Corning went into the event looking to improve upon his ninth-place finish in 2018.
The men’s slopestyle qualification round consisted of two runs where the 30-man field was slimmed down to 12 riders for the finals Sunday, Feb. 6.
Gerard and Corning were also joined by fellow American riders Sean Fitzsimons and Dusty Henricksen, who all took to the Secret Garden Olympic Slopestyle course, which consists of three jib rail features and three jumps.
Gerard wasted no time heating up the competition and showing why he is the the reigning Olympic champ as he put down an almost flawless first run as the first rider in the competition after being randomly drawn to go first.
Gerard looked relaxed as he showed his style through the rail portion of the course and then strung together a switch backside 1260, a 1080 and a 1440 off the Great Wall jump. Gerard scored a 78.20 on his first run, which put him in first for some time until Fitzsimons pushed Gerard into second after a solid run of his own.
Fitzsimons, who is from Hood River, Oregon, executed on a switch backside 1260, a frontside triple 1440 and a backside triple 1440 in order to score 78.76 and edge out Gerard.
Fitzsimons and Gerard sat in second and third, respectively, after as Yiming Su, of China, scored 86.80 to top the competition in Round 1.
Corning’s first run looked good on the first two jumps, where he performed a 1260 and a 1080, but while completing a 1440 on the final jump, he landed hard on the toe edge of his board, impacting the score he got from the judges. Corning scored 48.48, which put him in 15th after the first round.
Henricksen, who is from Big Bear, California, fell on the second jump, resulting in a lower score of 37.46 on his first run of the day, which placed him in 20th.
Gerard made things look easy on the first half of the course on his second run of the day, but when he got to the final jump, he attempted a 1620 and went a little too big, over rotating and resulting in a fall.
Gerard was forced to sit and wait out the rest of the competition to see if his 78.20 on his first run would be good enough. After waiting on 29 other riders, Gerard’s first-run score was enough for fifth, advancing him to finals.
Fitzsimons, like Gerard, was forced to wait out the rest of the competition to see whether he would advance, as he fell on the first jump feature in his second run. Fitzsimons hung on for third place.
Corning needed to go big in order to improve his placement on his final run of the day, and he was nothing but clutch in a high-pressure situation. Corning performed a technical backside rodeo, followed by clean 1260, 1080 and 1440 jumps, which he reacted to by holding his hands to his head in relief.
Corning scored 69.30, which allowed him to finish in 11th place and advance to the finals alongside Gerard and Fitzsimons.
Henricksen landed awkwardly on one of his jumps on his second run but tried to make up for it by going big on the final jump features. Henricksen scored a 58.46, placing him in 17th and missing the finals.
Gerard, Corning and Fitzsimons will represent the U.S. in the finals at 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, on NBC affiliated channels and Peacock TV.
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