The freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi produced an exciting morning of competition with the men's slopestyle qualifying section Thursday.
American Joss Christensen was the standout performer of the day, with two fantastic runs. He scored 91.00 on his first, and then magnificently hit a magical 93.20.
NBC's Skyler Wilder tweeted about the rider's fine performance:
The top 12 competitors from the qualifiers progress and they are as follows:
|Olympic Freestyle Skiing: Men's Slopestyle Qualifying (Top 12 Progress)|
|3||James Woods||Great Britain||87.20|
|10||Josiah Wells||New Zealand||83.40|
Andreas Haatveit of Norway was the second-most consistent performer of the qualifiers, posting two scores of 87.40 and 88.00.
British hopeful James Woods had a great first round of 87.20, securing him the third spot. However, he pulled up in his second run with what appeared to be an injury. It seems he should be fine to compete in the final, though.
The BBC's Jonathan Edwards tweeted about Woods' effort:
One of the favourites for the competition is the USA's hot teenage sensation Nick Goepper. The skier, who is the reigning Winter X Games champion, per TeamUSA.org, placed in fourth after a difficult first run, but he rectified any issues and posted a solid 87.00.
He recently said, per TeamUSA.org, about representing his country at Sochi 2014: "It’s a dream come true. It’s super fun. The Olympics add a bit more pressure, but we’re out here trying to get creative and have fun"
Wilder also tweeted about Goepper's recovery:
It was expected that Goepper would blow away his opponents at Sochi 2014, but this is an open competition now. Christensen's form positions him as the favourite for the gold medal, but anything can happen in such a dynamic sport.
All four of America's athletes made the top 12 and will compete in the final.
Despite his run, Woods will likely miss out on a medal. That is not to say he is not good enough, but the niggling injury he seems to be carrying definitely had an impact on this second run. He might just get the opportunity to put one massive performance together and sneak his way into the top three.
As great as Christensen has been on Thursday, expectation is that we will see Goepper prevail and take the gold medal. The 19-year-old has flair and ability beyond his years, and his X Games success shows what a competitor he is.
Can he live with Christensen's consistency? This event is about timing, and not just the jumps. If he hits that huge performance right at the end of the competition he will be untouchable.
The gold medal is Goepper's for the taking. Christensen will be close, and it promises to be a mammoth showdown between the two. A classic Olympic memory is sure to be created.