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Gus Kenworthy, Telluride skier, steps closer to PyeonChang Olympics with win

SNOWMASS VILLAGE — The tide changed for Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy on Sunday as he finally found his groove and won the Snowmass Grand Prix’s second slopestyle contest.

With his trademark surgical precision that eluded him at early contests at Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Snowmass, Kenworthy landed his run in his second lap down the Snowmass slopestyle course Sunday, fueling his push to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. This week, he will get one more chance to secure his Olympic berth on the halfpipe team and two more chances in slopestyle contests at California’s Mammoth Mountain in the final Olympic qualifiers before South Korea.

“To land the run, I wanted to get on top of the podium, it’s so much confidence and definitely gives me momentum going into Mammoth,” he said, grinning widely as he hugged friends and family at the bottom of the Snowmass course.

With a halfpipe podium at last season’s first Olympic qualifier at Mammoth, Kenworthy was hoping he could win early contests at Copper and Breckenridge and then turn his attention to slopestyle. This season hasn’t unfolded the way Kenworthy planned.

“Not at all. I thought, ‘Oh I’ll just get a podium in Copper and I wont have to focus on pipe for the rest of the season and I can just do slope,” he said.

But he didn’t make the finals at the Copper Grand Prix. He made finals at the Breckenridge Dew Tour but didn’t do well in both the pipe and slopestyle contests. That left the Snowmass Grand Prix as his next-to-last chance to change his Olympic trajectory. Until Sunday, it wasn’t looking good. He didn’t make the Grand Prix’s first slopestyle finals and he missed the podium in the pipe.

“It’s been a slow start for sure. I think that lit a fire under (me) and I realized how much I need to step it up in the last days, which I was able to do,” he said. “I’m feeling good right now.”


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