KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Four Americans breezed through the qualifying round of the men’s ski slopestyle event, each showing the ability to contend for the podium.
Slopestyle is making its debut at these Sochi Games and calls on freestyle skiers to navigate the rails and jumps of a custom-made course. Thirty-two skiers competed in Thursday’s qualification round and the top 16 advanced to the finals, scheduled for later in the day.
Joss Christensen, a 22-year-old from Salt Lake City, posted the top score — 91.0 — on the first run of the day. He was already qualified and didn’t even need to attempt a second, but he did anyway and managed to beat his own high score with a 93.20.
After a rough first run, 19-year-old Indiana native Nick Goeppler, the two-time Winter X-Games champ in slopestyle, posted an 87.0 on his second, the fourth-best mark of the round. He was just a hair better than teammate Gus Kenworthy, who put together a pair of strong runs and finished the round in fifth place with a score of 86.40.
Bobby Brown entered the competition as a medal favorite but tumbled on the first rail and held the second-lowest score after the first run — a 3.40. He rebounded on the second, posting a mark of 83.0. It was the 12th-best in qualifying and though he had to sweat out the final skiers in the qualifications, he was able to squeak into the finals.