Making sense of team USA Olympic qualifiers, heading into final Grand Prix events

January 13th, 2014 by

Heading into this week’s Grand Prix events at Park City, only three athletes have locked up their spots on the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic team. The athletes who are a mathematical lock, based on three overall podium finishes and two first place finishes among the American field, are Nick Goepper in men’s slopestyle, Maddie Bowman in women’s halfpipe and David Wise in men’s halfpipe. With two events in each discipline happening in Park City, and the coaches’ discretion spots up for grabs, it’s truly anyone’s game when it comes to team qualification.

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Voisin, Battersby, and Logan smile for the camera prior to Dew Tour qualifiers

There are 26 U.S. Olympic team “starts” up for grabs among the five sports that make up the Freestyle and Freeskiing teams: halfpipe, slopestyle, aerials, moguls, and ski cross. A “start” is the equivalent of one individual’s participation in a particular Olympic discipline; e.g. an athlete would use up two of the American “starts” if they were to compete in both slopestyle and halfpipe. Each discipline can send up to four male and four female athletes, meaning a total of 40 skiers could potentially qualify to represent the U.S. at the Games. However, given the scenario with the “starts,” the U.S. can only send a maximum of 26 people, meaning there is a likelihood that several of your favorite freeskiers will receive the (unfortunate) ax. Who gets left behind will be based on results from each of the qualifiers, and the coaches will essentially send the athletes who have the best chance of making the podium in Sochi, regardless of discipline.

To be considered for the team, athletes must meet the “objective criteria,” which is two top-three results among the entire field. After the fifth qualifier, athletes who meet the objective criteria will be considered for the Olympic team. If there are more than three athletes who meet the objective criteria, the top three, based on total points, will be considered “locks” for the team. The remaining athletes are placed in a discretionary pool with everyone else and will vie for the fourth team spot based on “subjective criteria,” which is made up of a variety of factors and will ultimately be decided by the coaches. If less than three athletes meet the objective criteria, there will still be a discretionary pool of athletes, but there is no guarantee that all four of the team spots will be filled.

That being said, let’s take a look at the men’s and women’s field in each of the freeskiing disciplines to see how things are stacking up as we head into Park City.

Men’s Halfpipe

Locked: David Wise

On the bubble: Aaron Blunck, Simon Dumont, Gus Kenworthy, Lyman Currier

In the running: Torin Yater-Wallace, Alex Ferreira, Broby Leeds, Taylor Seaton

Currently, David Wise is the only men’s halfpipe skier to be mathematically guaranteed a spot on the U.S. Team, based on his first place finishes at Dew Tour and the Grand Prix at Breckenridge. Seventeen-year-old Aaron Blunck is hot on his heels with a first and second place finish at Copper and Dew Tour, respectively. He’s the only other men’s halfpipe skier to fulfill the objective criteria, thus far, so he has a great chance of representing Team USA in Sochi.

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Simon Dumont airs it out at Dew Tour

The only other Americans with a podium finish this season are Gus Kenworthy and Lyman Currier, who both sit behind Simon Dumont in total points. If Kenworthy and/or Currier can earn a podium finish this weekend, they will have a great chance of making the team. Meanwhile, Simon looks to hit the podium twice this weekend, as he has yet to fulfill the objective criteria; if he can pull it off, he’ll be a strong contender for Team USA. Speculation aside, with two events remaining, the field is still wide open. If an athlete finds himself on top of the podium at both of this weekend’s contests, he will lock in his spot on the team. Additionally, any athlete who makes the podium twice this weekend will also be a solid contender.

The remaining outlier is Torin Yater-Wallace, who, at the beginning of the season, was a favorite to make Team USA. An injury at Dew Tour has since put his Olympic plans in jeopardy, and whether or not he competes in Park City, he should still be considered a favorite for the “coaches’ discretion” spot, which can be given based on essentially any criteria. Interestingly, if more than three athletes meet the objective criteria, those who placed outside of the top three will be put in the discretionary pool, where they could lose a spot to Torin.

Name Objective Criteria Dew Tour Copper Breck Two Best
David Wise Yes 100 29 100 200
Aaron Blunck Yes 80 100 22 180
Simon Dumont No 16 60 80 140
Gus Kenworthy No 32 80 40 120
Lyman Currier No 60 45 50 110
Alex Ferreira No 36 50 60 110
Broby Leeds No 40 26 45 85
Kyle Smaine No 50 32 24 82
Taylor Seaton No 45 36 36 81

 

For a complete list of standings, visit usfreeskiing.com


Women’s Halfpipe

Locked: Maddie Bowman

On the bubble: Brita Sigourney, Angeli Vanlaanen, Annalisa Drew, Devin Logan

In the running: Jeanne Crane-Mauzy, Abigale Hansen, Zyre Austin

Thanks to her second win of the season at the Breckenridge Grand Prix, Maddie Bowman has locked in her spot on Team USA. Brita Sigourney sits right behind her, and can lock in a spot with a win at either of the two events taking place this weekend. However, she currently has the second best result possible, so barring consecutive first-place finishes from anyone who currently sits behind her in the standings, Brita will be selected to the team. Angeli Vanlaanen is in the hunt, and can meet the objective criteria with a top three finish at either of this weekend’s events.

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Angeli Vanlaanen, Maddie Bowman, and Brita Sigourney celebrate after Dew Tour finals

Dual threat Devin Logan has not found the podium in any of the halfpipe events this year, and it’s become a common misconception that if she qualifies in slopestyle, she’ll also be able to compete in halfpipe without taking up another slot on Team USA. Logan will need two top three finishes this weekend to meet the objective criteria and avoid having to earn her spot via the discretionary pool.

Name Objective Criteria Dew Tour Copper Breck Two Best
Maddie Bowman Yes 100 80 100 200
Brita Sigourney Yes 60 100 80 180
Angeli Vanlaanen No 80 45 50 130
Annalisa Drew No 45 50 60 110
Devin Logan No 50 60 45 110
Jeanne Crane-Mauzy No 29 40 40 80
Abigale Hansen No 32 29 36 68
Zyre Austin No 26 36 32 68
Isabel Atkin No 24 32 0 56

 

For a complete list of standings, visit usfreeskiing.com


Men’s Slopestyle

Locked: Nick Goepper

On the bubble: Bobby Brown

In the running: McRae Williams, Tom Wallisch, Gus Kenworthy, Alex Schlopy, Joss Christensen, Noah Wallace, Matt Walker

Two podiums coupled with his two first-place finishes among Americans means that Nick Goepper has punched his ticket to Sochi. Men’s slopestyle has what might be the deepest field of competitors among the various disciplines, with only Goepper and Australia’s Russ Henshaw finding the podium more than once this season. Heading into Park City, Bobby Brown is the only other American with a podium finish. And because it was a first-place finish in Breckenridge, Brown can seal the deal with a first-place finish at either of the two events this weekend. Additionally, he can lock in his spot with at least one second place finish if Goepper places first at one of the events.

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Nick Goepper awaits his score at Dew Tour

All other athletes need to find the podium twice this weekend to meet the objective criteria necessary for consideration. Brown and the rest of the slopestyle field are essentially battling for the two remaining guaranteed spots and the one coaches’ discretion spot. Athletes will certainly be considering these events as a “last-chance” qualifier, and it’s likely we’ll see at least one athlete snag his first podium of the season, while it is also possible that up to six athletes will get their first podium finish.

If the rest of the field fails to meet the objective criteria, it will be up to coaches’ discretion to assemble the remaining members of the slopestyle team. It should be noted that Williams, Wallisch, Schlopy and Christensen will all be competing on their home turf, which might give them an advantage this weekend.

Name Objective Criteria Dew Tour Copper Breck Two Best
Nick Goepper Yes 100 100 80 200
Bobby Brown No 80 60 100 180
McRae Williams No 40 80 36 120
Tom Wallisch No 60 45 60 120
Gus Kenworthy No 26 50 50 100
Alex Schlopy No 50 36 45 95
Joss Christensen No 45 40 0 85
Noah Wallace No 36 32 16 68
Matt Walker No 18 14 40 58

 

For a complete list of standings, visit usfreeskiing.com


Women’s Slopestyle

Locked: None

On the bubble: Devin Logan

In the running: Keri Herman, Darian Stevens, Grete Eliassen, Maggie Voisin

Women’s slopestyle is the only discipline that doesn’t have any locked-in athletes, and it is by far the closest battle, with only 40 points separating first-place from fifth. By comparison, the other disciplines have at least 90 points separating first and fifth places. Devin Logan is the only athlete who has met the objective criteria, but Herman, Stevens, Eliassen and Voisin only need one more top three finish to meet the criteria.

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Keri Herman on her way to a fourth place finish at Dew Tour

While Logan’s chances of securing a spot on Team USA should be considered pretty good heading into Park City, based on the volatility of competition, it’s entirely possible, albeit unlikely, that Logan could get bumped out of the top four by the end of the week. A wide-open field of hungry athletes with their sights on Sochi means that this weekend’s women’s slopestyle contests could be some of the most exciting in recent memory.

Name Objective Criteria Dew Tour Copper Breck Two Best
Devin Logan Yes 100 36 80 180
Keri Herman No 60 50 100 160
Darian Stevens No 36 100 40 140
Grete Eliassen No 22 80 60 140
Maggie Voisin No 80 60 0 140
Julia Krass No 45 24 45 90
Meg Olenick No 29 29 50 79
Rebecca Roberts No 24 40 36 76
Jamie Crane-Mauzy No 40 32 29 72

 

For a complete list of standings, visit usfreeskiing.com

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About the author:
A 24-year-old Montana native, Shane Dowaliby is the Video Editor here at Freeskier.