Shaun White opened his day with a nasty spill and ended it with a ticket to Sochi.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe will get a chance to win one in slopestyle after taking the second of two qualifying events Thursday in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. The victory came only hours after a face-first crash that left White sitting on the course, stunned, as medics checked him for broken bones. There were none.
“I haven’t taken a hit like that in a long time,” he said.
White recovered, grabbed lunch and came out for the second contest, where he nailed three straight jumps with three or more rotations and scored 95.2. He passed on his second run — a strategic move designed to save strength during a long weekend of qualifying — and nobody topped that score.
That made White the top American in two of the four qualifiers and guaranteed a spot on the U.S. Olympic team that, though seemingly preordained, has come with its fair share of injuries and angst.
On Friday, White is expected to ride on the halfpipe and try to secure his spot there.
His struggles began Dec. 14, when he tweaked his left ankle during the preliminary heats of the first halfpipe qualifying in Breckenridge, Colo. He finished second that day, but pulled out of the slopestyle contest.
The next week in Copper Mountain, he competed in slopestyle, but not halfpipe. After a third-place finish, he insisted he was satisfied.
Four weeks later, White opened his slopestyle quest in Mammoth with a face-first fall as he attempted a double cork 1080, which is three twists wrapped inside two flips. After being checked out by medics, he made it down the hill under his own power, and tried for the second run. But he under-rotated his first jump and aborted the run, riding slowly to the bottom.
On the women’s side, Jamie Anderson won both contests to secure her trip in Sochi.
● BIATHLON: In Antholz-Anterselva, Italy, Anais Bescond of France earned her first World Cup victory by winning the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint.
● SOCHI: Six workers fell off a roof at the bobsled center for the upcoming Winter Olympics when the snow they were clearing slid to the ground. Associated Press technicians who witnessed the fall said one of the men appeared to have injured a leg and was taken away on a stretcher, while others suffered minor injuries.