Sochi's Rosa Khutor Extreme Park once again opened its slopes on Thursday, with the men's ski cross getting underway and a field of 32 contenders in the qualification mix.
A combination of speed, agility and big-air jumps down a course roughly 1,000 metres in length saw the seeding stage establish our groups ahead of the 1/8 final, with no athletes bowing out of the race just yet.
Read on for a breakdown of Thursday's top-10 seeding qualification results:
|Rank||Skier||Nationality||Time||Time Difference (+)|
|1||Victor Oehling Norberg||SWE||1:15.59|
|4||Jean Frederic Chapuis||FRA||1:16.77||1.18|
A full table of the first qualifying stage can be found on the official Sochi 2014 website.
It's never easy going first on a stage as prestigious as the Winter Olympics, and Switzerland's Alex Fiva struggled to cope with the pressure as No. 1 participant, falling on his way down the quick track.
However, it wouldn't be long before the real class came to the fore as No. 4 Victor Oehling Norberg flew to the summit of the seeded standings.
The Swede's time of 1 minute, 15.59 seconds was a seamless and sound first run to get on the board, the knuckles and hidden lumps of the course posing little obstacle for Norberg's speed.
And despite coming so early in the order, that attempt would prove fast enough to keep Norberg at the top of seeding for the remainder of the round. It's a small bonus given that nobody exits the event just yet, but the 23-year-old joins better company in his 1/8 final group as a result.
Jason Stahl of NBC pointed out just how impressive Norberg has been on the circuit of late:
Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE) is up next. He reached the podium at 3 World Cups this season. #funfact— Jason Stahl (@stahl_jason) February 20, 2014
The Canadian pairing of Christopher Delbosco and Brady Leman managed a surge on the top spots, too, finishing second and third in the seeding, respectively, soaking up any slight tremors caused by their trickier landings.
Throughout the seeding run, it was the gigantic finishing jump that drew the most attention, but Germany's Andreas Schauer found one of the smaller knuckles to be his undoing, the only other skier aside from Fiva to register a DNF thanks to his tumble halfway down.
And it would get worse for Switzerland, too, with No. 30 Michael Schmid failing to start and bowing out of the hunt as a result. As Wilder states, it came as a massive shock considering Schmid is the defending gold medallist:
Onlookers now wait to see if Schmid can bounce back despite not having a first run at the course. It's something that will undoubtedly be of disadvantage to the 29-year-old, but his talent is capable of responding in a confident manner, such was the quality of his displays in Vancouver four years ago.
Groups of four will now compete to find their spot in the competition's quarterfinals, the two fastest freestylers from each batch advancing from the 1/8 final.