All Photos: Chris Wellhausen
Men's Snowboarding slopestyle qualifiers at Sochi Olympics
It's no secret that the Canadians and Norwegians have some of the most promising Olympic slope teams. Well, after the debut of Olympic slopestyle today you can add the Finns to the list, too. Norway's Stale Sandbech qualified top among the first heat of riders, followed by Finland's Peetu Piiroinen, Canada's Seb Toutant, and, England's Jamie Nicholls, who pulled out a clutch Cab 1440. As for the concerns about the course being "dangerous", or not built right, most riders were happy with the adjustments that had been made to it, while the rest had at least come to terms with the setup.
Top Runs From The First Heat Of Riders Qualified To Finals
In heat two it was Canada's Max Parrot who took first, posting the highest score of the day, a 97.50 after stomping a huge backside triple cork to end his second run. Finland's Roope Tonteri picked up the second qualifying position, and behind him was Sweden's Sven Thorgren, and Norway's Gjermund Braaten. Those rankings put two Canadian's straight into the finals on Saturday, along with two Finns, and two Norwegians. That's a strong showing for team Norway, even though Torstein Horgmo's out of commission with a broken collarbone.
Top Runs From The Second Heat Of Riders Qualified To Finals
Wait, weren't six riders supposed to advance directly to finals after today's qualifiers? Originally, yes but early in the morning it was announced that four riders would move on from each heat, putting eight straight to the finals, while the remaining four would come from Saturday's semifinal. No official word on why the change was made.
Another curveball came to light this morning as well, when news spread that all of today's riders would advance to semifinals no matter how they placed. That's because no athlete can be eliminated from competition before the Olympics start, which isn't officially until tomorrow when the opening ceremonies take place. So the top four qualifiers from today will still go straight to finals, while everyone else gets a second chance.
That's good news for Mark McMorris who didn't qualify through to finals. Mark wasn't looking as confident as he normally is and his riding seemed more guarded, no doubt a side effect of the broken rib he suffered at X Games just two weeks ago. They say even if you've overcome a physical injury, it takes more time to heal mentally. But after falling during his first run on a Cab double cork 900 Mark focused and stomped a sick second run with his backside triple cork 1440 that scored surprisingly low.
"I landed one of the only legitimate triple corks of the day and I didn’t even come close—It's pretty ridiculous," Mark said. "But it's judged sport, what can you do?"
As for the rib, Mark said that he didn't feel it all during his second run until the impact on the last jump. He added that now all he's focused on is making the final on Saturday. More on the judging here.
A shout out to British rider Billy Morgan who started everything off and took the first ever Olympic slopestyle run today. He also landed the first triple cork of the contest.
The men's gold medal slopestyle finals go down on Saturday.
Heat 1 Advance Directly To Finals
Heat 2 Advance Directly To Finals