Olympic milestones approaching for American snowboarders and freestyle skiers

Megan Nick trains for women’s jumps at the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare International Freestyle Skiing World Cup on February 3, 2021 in Park City, Utah.

Freestyle skiing

Based on FIS points as of December 22, 2021, four US athletes are able to qualify for the jumps. Up to two athletes per gender can qualify per country as long as they are in the top six overall.

These criteria apply to Megan Nick, Winter Vinecki, Chris Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld. In moguls, the Americans Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar are in a qualifying position. No American man is in the top six. No American athlete makes the top six in ski cross.

In the halfpipe, Alex Ferreira’s great Dew Tour victory places him first in the overall standings with Birk Irving also in the top six. Ferreira is the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in this event. Brita Sigourney, bronze medalist in 2018, sits just outside the top six in women. Colby Stevenson and Mac Forehand are in the top six in men’s slopestyle, with Caroline Claire in seventh in the women’s standings. Big air and slopestyle are considered as a single event for Olympic qualification.

If athletes do not qualify through the rankings, they may earn a top three spot in one of the trial events. The United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Jan.6-8 at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Is the final test event for the halfpipe and slopestyle. Jumps, Moguls and Skicross all have at least one other test event via the World Cup schedule.

Athletes can also qualify through discretionary selection from US Ski & Snowboard based on a number of criteria such as recent results and ability to win medals.

Team USA can send up to 30 freestyle skiers to Beijing. If the United States qualifies three aerials and qualifies for the mixed team event, then they can send 32 skiers. The qualifying period ends on January 16, 2022, with the U.S. squad to be announced by January 21.

Maddie Mastro looks on after placing second in the women’s snowboard halfpipe final at the 2021 FIS Aspen Snowboard and Freeski World Championship on March 13, 2021 in Aspen, Colorado.

Snowboard

Similar qualification procedures exist for American snowboarders. The Dew Tour was the perfect place to take a step, as Chloe Kim, the reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, claimed a victory in her flagship event to solidify her place as America’s top woman. Olympian Maddie Mastro also ranks in the top six, with no male rider currently in the halfpipe position. Many eyes will be on Shaun White, the three-time Olympic champion who will need a solid finish in the United States Grand Prix.

In slopestyle, defending Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard notched a Dew Tour victory as he and rising star Dusty Henricksen are positioned to advance with Chris Corning in the chase. Jamie Anderson, reigning two-time Olympic female champion, ranks first in the overall women’s standings. As in skiing, the slopestyle and the big air are calculated together.

No American runner is in the top six in the parallel giant slalom. In snowboardcross, three-time Olympian Faye Gulini ranks sixth with five-time world champion Lindsey Jacobellis just behind her.

Halfpipe and slopestyle riders will consider the United States Grand Prix as the final test event, while parallel giant slalom and snowboardcross have World Cup events remaining on the schedule.

As in skiing, athletes can also qualify by finishing in the top three in a trial event or through discretionary selection. Team USA can send up to 26 snowboarders to Beijing. The qualifying period ends on January 16, 2022, with the U.S. squad to be announced by January 21.

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