Sage Kotsenburg advances to slopestyle finals

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Even with Shaun White focused on the halfpipe, the United States will be represented in the men’s slopestyle finals. Sage Kotsenburg put down a pair of strong runs Saturday morning. His score in the first heat  (89.0) would have been good enough to advance to the finals, but he managed to best that mark in his second run (90.5) and will have a shot at an Olympic medal later in the day.

Kotsenburg, 20, had the second-highest mark on the day, just behind Great Britain’s Billy Morgan (90.75). A total of 20 riders hit the mountain Saturday morning, competing for one of four remaining spots in the finals. Kotsenburg, a native of Park City, Utah, was the only American to advance.

Alaska native Ryan Stassel put up a good showing and held the fourth-place spot after the first heat and through most of the second. With only six riders remaining, he was bumped out of the top-four by Canada’s Mark McMorris and ultimately finished in sixth place with a high mark of 83.25 on the day.

McMorris entered these Games as a gold-medal favorite but riding with a broken rib, he struggled in Thursday’s qualification round and scored only 55.5 on his first run Saturday due to a bad landing. On his do-or-die second run, he managed to post an 89.25, good enough for third place on the day. Japan’s Yuki Kadono (84.75) nabbed the final spot in the finals with the fourth-best score in the semis. Canada is in position for multiple medals in slopestyle with three strong riders in the finals.

American Chas Guldemond posted a 13.25 on his first semifinal run and 79.25 on his second, finishing in seventh place and failing to advance.

The finals are scheduled to take place this afternoon (12:45 p.m. in Sochi, 3:45 a.m. in Washington.)

Eight other riders secured spots in the finals in Thursday’s qualification round: Canada’s Maxence Parrot, Norway’s Staale Sandbech, Finland’s Peetu Piiroinen, Canada’s Sebastien Toutant, Great Britain’s Jamie Nicholls, Finland’s Roope Tonteri, Sweden’s Sven Thorgren and Norway’s Gjermund Braaten.

Rick Maese is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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