Summit’s Red Gerard qualifies for snowboard slopestyle final at Aspen Grand Prix
The Aspen Times
Event serves as Olympic qualifier for 2022 games in Beijing
ASPEN — Red Gerard of Silverthorne, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in men’s snowboard slopestyle, led his heat at Friday’s Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix World Cup qualifying round at Buttermilk Ski Area in Aspen. Gerard will be one of three American men competing in Saturday’s final along with Judd Henkes and X Games breakout star Dusty Henricksen.
Despite putting down solid runs, Americans Brock Crouch of California (79.50) and Chris Corning of Silverthorne (78.50) finished 14th and 16th, respectively, narrowly missing out on making the 12-man final in the qualifying event for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in China.
“I was super stoked to put down the first run,” said Henricksen, the 18-year-old from California who won two golds, including in slopestyle, in his X Games debut in January. “It’s always a nice weight off the chest, just getting one out of the way and knowing you have a score on the board. Definitely tried to clean it up that last run but didn’t quite work out.”
Also qualifying behind Gerard (90) in Heat 1 were Canada’s Max Parrot (85.75), Henkes (82.50), Canada’s Liam Brearley (82.25), Switzerland’s Moritz Thoenen (80.75) and Japan’s Hiroaki Kunitake (80.50).
Norway’s Marcus Kleveland, who won slopestyle gold at last week’s World Championships, led the second heat with 94. Behind him were Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas (89.50), Henricksen (86.50), Canada’s Mark McMorris (84), Russia’s Vlad Khadarin (82.50) and Norway’s Markus Olimstad (81.50).
A total of 61 athletes took part in the two men’s qualifying heats. All slopestyle finals — including men’s and women’s skiing — are Saturday at Buttermilk.
“I would love to up the last jump,” Gerard said about his plan for Saturday. “But finals, once again, just land some runs. Other than that, I just try to have some fun.”
3 American women qualify to snowboard finals
After less than ideal conditions throughout the World Championships, athletes weren’t complaining about Friday’s balmy weather during qualifying.
“It’s literally like being at the beach right now,” California’s Hailey Langland said. “But I’m so stoked. I haven’t really had a great season this year, so to be able to even put two down in a contest, I’m so hyped.”
Langland was one of the three American women to make it through to Saturday’s final, finishing third with a second-run score of 79.76 in the two-run qualifier. Close friend and fellow U.S. national team member Julia Marino was second (81.20), while Japan’s Kokomo Murase led the way with 84.38. In fourth was Tahoe icon Jamie Anderson (77.46).
The other four qualifiers include Austria’s Anna Gasser (76.10), Canada’s Laurie Blouin (73.13), Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi (70.08) and Australia’s Tess Coady (68.03).
“It was so fun today,” Gasser said. “I appreciate it so much that the weather is good and the vibe is so much higher when the sun is out. A little bit of slush also helps.”
Germany’s Annika Morgan (67.21) and Japan’s Miyabi Onitsuka (66.78) were the first two to miss the cut in the 30-woman field.
Murase, only 16, had a strong showing last week at World Championships, finishing fifth in slopestyle and sixth in big air.
New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott edged Anderson and Coady to win gold at Worlds but isn’t competing in the Grand Prix to instead take part in the third stop of Travis Rice’s Natural Selection Tour, which starts Saturday in Alaska. She won the first stop in Jackson, Wyoming.
“I’m pretty stoked,” Blouin said. “I’m stoked to land both slope runs. It feels pretty nice. We are lucky today is an insane day.”
This story is from AspenTimes.com
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