Staale Sandbech shook off a first-run fall to take the top spot, while American Chas Guldemond barely missed direct qualification to the final.
Event: Men’s slopestyle qualifying, first heat
How U.S. fared: Charles (Chas) Guldemond will head to the semifinals with a score of 86, falling only 0.75 behind the fourth-place rider, not in the top four for a guaranteed spot in the finals
What happened: The top qualifier, 20-year-old Staale Sandbech from Norway, earned only a 45.25 on his first run after an early fall. He impressed the judges with a clean second run, earning him the 1st place spot and a score of 94. Not far behind him in 2nd, with a score of 90.75, was Peetu Piiroinen from Finland. Peetu earned a silver medal in the halfpipe event at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The other two riders moving directly to the finals are Sebastien Toutant out of Canada with a score of 87.25 and Jamie Nicholls out of Great Britain with a score of 86.75.
The youngest riders in the competition showed their lack of experience, leaving their first Olympic experience behind them after not qualifying. Lucien Koch, age 18, out of Switzerland scored a 32 and 29.25 respectively. From Japan, Yuki Kodono took his first Olympic reps at only 17 years old. He had a few unfortunate falls, having to bail at the end of his second run after a fall cost him the speed needed to get up the next hill, earning him a 31 and 16.5, respectively. They’ll get another shot in the semifinals.
This was an exciting first Olympic event in Sochi, the first slopestyle runs in Winter Olympic history. The boarders stayed in high spirits, flaunting the ever-chill snowboarding mantra. I’m looking forward to the semifinals.
Also, I have to mention the white elephant… no Shaun White… we will see him in the halfpipe event. He was surely missed and did not go without mention, but his American counterpart Chas Guldemond definitely did not let down the fans from the United States.