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American skiers, snowboarders dominate Olympic qualifier at Copper

COPPER MOUNTAIN — The first leg of the road to the PyeongChang Olympics began this week in Copper Mountain’s perfectly sculpted halfpipe.

American skiers and snowboarders dominated the season’s first U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. kicking off a four-event Olympic qualifying stretch. Four U.S. men and four U.S. women advanced to Friday’s ski halfpipe finals. Seven U.S. men and five U.S. women advanced to Saturday’s snowboard halfpipe finals.

On Tuesday, Sochi gold medalist David Wise topped the qualifying field of almost 50 skiers. Winter Park 18-year-old Birk Irving, competing in one of the biggest contests of his life, qualified third, followed by Basalt’s Torin Yater Wallace. Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck also qualified for the 10-skier finals on Friday.  New Zealand’s Nico Porteous and Beau James Wells, Canada’s Mike Riddle and Simon D’Artois and France’s Benoit Valentin also will compete in the finals.

Five American women moved on to Friday’s eight-skier finals. Sochi veteran freeskier Devin Logan, aiming to compete in both women’s halfpipe and slopestyle in South Korea, finished second in Tuesday’s qualifying halfpipe contest. Sochi gold medalist Maddie Bowman qualified fourth, followed by Brita Sigourney, Annalisa Drew and Carly Margulies, the youngest member of U.S. Freeskiing’s halfpipe squad. China’s Kevin Zhang, France’s Marie Martinod and Germany’s Sabrina Cakmakli also will compete in Friday’s halfpipe finals.

Five American women qualified for the eight-rider snowboard halfpipe finals on Saturday. Maddie Mastro and Chloe Kim lead their heats. Four-time Olympian Kelly Clark, Steamboat Sochi veteran Arielle Gold and Elana Hight also advanced to finals.  China’s Jiayu Liu, Japan’s Sena Tomita and France’s Mirabelle Thovex also will compete in the eight-rider finals.

Seven American men qualified for Saturday’s halfpipe finals. Oregon brothers Ben and Gabe Ferguson joined Louie Vito and Danny Davis in qualifying in the first heat. The second heat saw Shaun White, Chase Josey and Greg Bretz move on to finals, which will include Australia’s Scotty James and Japan riders Ayumu Hirano and Raibu Katayama.

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