As the last Olympic qualifiers of the season wrapped up in Park City, UT this weekend, we were thrilled to witness the announcement of the first 11 U.S. Olympic freeskiing athletes. While we celebrated each of those individuals’ accomplishments, we were also left with a bit of a question mark, of course, in regards to who would round out the team. That initial wave of athletes skied their way to Sochi based on results at the various Olympic qualifying events, yet, the final few spots were left up to the much-talked-about “coaches’ discretion.” Today, the wait is over.
In men’s slopestyle, the discretion spot is awarded to Joss Christensen. After finishing 8th at Dew Tour, 12th at Copper Mountain, 4th on Friday in Park City, and following up with a big win on Saturday Joss was among the frontrunners to claim an Olympic berth. On Saturday, Joss spoke with humility, as pertaining to his chances of competing in Sochi:
Saturday, we also spoke with Gus Kenworthy, who speculated Joss would clinch the spot:
Joss’ proud supporters in Park City, UT
For women’s slope: 15-year-old Maggie Voisin will join the Sochi-bound slopestyle skiers. This weekend, we said about Maggie, she’s “skiing with style and technicality that have made her the buzz of the competitive circuit.” The Whitefish, Montana native earned an X Games invitation this year, as well, and will be competing in Aspen this week. Looking forward to Sochi, if Maggie manages to stomp a clean run, she will be among the medal contenders, without a doubt.
Additionally, 16-year-old Julia Krass punches her ticket to Sochi. After a big win in Park City, Krass quickly became a major player in regards to this nomination, and we’re certainly excited to see her make the cut. We spoke with Julia post-win, on Saturday:
In men’s halfpipe, Torin Yater-Wallace earns the nod. After finishing first in the qualifying round at Dew Tour, in mid-December, Yater-Wallace went down during the pre-finals practice session, suffering a collapsed right lung and two broken ribs. The decision to include Torin on the Olympic squad may come as a surprise to some—given he sat out of the entire Olympic qualifying period—but to us, this comes as no shock. When Wallace is on, he’s on. Should he perform his best next month, he will certainly stand a chance of bringing home some hardware.
Yater-Wallace cheers on his fellow Americans this weekend in Park City, UT
And in respect to women’s halfpipe, Annalisa Drew, an Andover, MA native, joins Maddie Bowman, Angeli VanLaanen and Brita Sigourney on the Olympic roster. Drew finished 8th at Dew Tour, 5th at Copper, 5th again in Breckenridge, and bagged two 4th place finishes in Park City. While she wasn’t able to crack the podium, she was certainly in the hunt. Among the women’s field, Drew is the only one currently throwing the alley-oop flatspin 540, and she’s one of just a few to put down a 1080 in competition.
“Each of the freeskiing athletes added to our nominations brings the potential for success in Sochi,” says Jeremy Forster, Director of Freeskiing and Snowboarding for the USSA. “They each distinguished themselves during the Grand Prix qualifying series with some amazing performances, all the way through the last qualifying events this past weekend.”
Introducing the 2014 US Olympic freeskiing team:
*Coaches’ discretion spots denoted by italics
*All nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The U.S. Olympic Committee will formally name the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team on January 27.