Two Olympic Medalists to Return
An Olympic selection process that began a full year ago in Mammoth Mountain came full circle Sunday. On the final day of a hotly-contested battle for slopestyle skiing Olympic berths, Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, Colo.) and bronze medalist Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) finally sealed their spots to return. Gold medalist Joss Christensen (Park City, Utah), who made a valiant effort in returning from a late-season knee injury, came ever so close to vying for a return ticket.
Coming into the final two selection events for the men, none of the three objective spots had been claimed. Goepper and Kenworthy needed only a podium in one of the two men's competitions to clinch outright. After he missed qualifying for the morning World Cup, Kenworthy came back in the afternoon to make a statement on his first run with a 94.8, holding on to finish second and gain a ticket to PyeongChang.
Goepper joined Kenworthy on the podium, finishing third. Alex Hall (Park City, Utah) was fifth as Canada's Evan McEachran took the win with a giant 96.40 on his second run.
In the opening FIS World Cup event Sunday morning, Canada's Teal Harle took the men's win. No Americans cracked the podium, but Goepper clinched his Olympic spot by virtue of two earlier podiums with only one event remaining. Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen of Norway took the women's win with Caroline Claire (Manchester Center, Vt.) finishing third.
Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.), who was the only American to clinch a women's Olympic spot by objective criteria, sat out the competition.
The athletes will now head to the X Games in Aspen before winging their way to South Korea in early February for the Olympic Winter Games. The remainder of the Olympic Freeski Team will be announced this coming week.