Joss Christensen qualifies for the Friday's slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix. (Melanie Harding)
PARK CITY, UT (Feb. 26, 2015) - With fresh snow falling on Park City Mountain Resort at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix, the conditions were tough for the athletes in the Visa slopestyle skiing qualifiers. The two heats became a game of survival, with the snow making speed a major issue on Thursday. Devin Logan (West Dover, VT), McRae Williams (Salt Lake City, UT), Chris Laker (Cincinnati, OH), Joss Christensen (Park City, UT), Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, CO), Bobby Brown (Breckenridge, CO) and Tom Wallisch (Pittsburgh, PA) qualified for Friday’s finals.
With snow quickly accumulating on the Park City slopestyle course, the rails became sticky and the jumps hard to clear as the afternoon progressed. But it clearly made little difference for the Americans, as six qualified for the finals out of 10 possible spots. In the first heat, Williams grabbed the third spot, and Laker snagged the fifth, while Christensen, Kenworthy, Brown and Wallisch went one through four in the second heat.
“I love being able to have a contest in Park City. This is the second year now that we’ve had a real platinum-level event at Park City,” said Joss Christensen, who grew up in Park City. “At the same time there is quite a bit of pressure being here, especially when my face is on all the posters. I think that pushes me, because I really want to do well and show how much I love skiing in my hometown.”
The women also had to battle less than ideal conditions. Logan was the only American woman to qualify for the finals, taking fourth.
“Hopefully I can bump my run up for finals and try some different tricks,” said Logan.
The freeskiing slopestyle finals take place Friday at 1:15 p.m. MST. NBC Sports Live Extra will stream the event live at 3:30 p.m. EST and NBC will air it on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Devin Logan’s run (rails;jumps): blind 270, switch out, switch 180 front 270 out; switch left 500 safety, cork 7 tail
Joss Christensen’s top qualifying run (rails;jumps): 270 on 270 out, switch right lip two, switch left 270 back 270 out; left double cork 1260 double Japan, switch right double cork 1080 safety
McRae William’s run (rails;jumps)—switch on 450 out to forwards, 450 disaster on, switch on rodeo 4 out to forwards; right rodeo 900 mute to lead Japan, switch dub 1080 tail grab
Gus’ Kenworthy’s run (rails;jumps): switch 270 on backside switch up, lip 450 disaster; switch right 270 back 270; left dub 1080 blunt, right dub 1260 mute
Tom Wallisch’s run (rails;jumps): switch to back side 630, right 270 to forward, left to front 450; right 900 tail, switch dub 10 double Japan
USA qualifiers to finals: Devin Logan, McRae Williams, Chris Laker, Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch
Other ladies to qualify for the finals: Emma Dahlstrom of Sweden, Anouk Purnelle-Faniel of Canada, Johanne Killi of Norway, Giulia Tanno of Switzerland, Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen of Norway
Other men to qualify for the finals: Felix Stridsberg-Usterud of Norway, Evan McEachran of Canada, Sami Sakkinen of Finland,
QUOTES Devin Logan My thumb is a little sore, but it’s doing good. I’ve got my poles and I’m trying to get all of the grabs that I can.
Hopefully in finals I can bump my run up and do some different tricks. It’s awesome to compete in Park City. This is the first time this year the course has been up. It’s nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and feel as comfortable as possible.
McRae Williams It went pretty well. I came out a little nervous with the conditions and the course is a little different with only two jumps. You really gotta separate yourself from everybody else. I put down a run I knew I could do clean and tried to be as clean as possible from top to bottom because I think that’s really what the judges are looking for here. It went well first run—I got an 84. I think I’m sitting in third right now, so hopefully that holds up and make it on to tomorrow.
The snow is really coming down now. For our practice this morning the sun was kinda out a bit. This morning is was a light snow, not really affecting the speed too much. Now it’s getting thicker and starting to accumulate. The top section up there is so flat; you gotta milk it for all it’s worth. The snow is giving us a rough time, but we’re making the best of it.
Gus Kenworthy It was alright out there today. The weather was not ideal. It was snowing pretty hard earlier, and then it kind of let up, but then the wind picked up a little bit—just a bit of a headwind. The combination of the new snow and the wind makes it pretty hard to clear the jumps and the moisture made the rails a bit sticky. But everybody killed it and put it down. I saw Bobby [Brown] put down a really good first run, so it got me stoked to try and put down a run that I originally hadn’t planned to do and step it up. So I did, and I was able to land. Joss [Christiansen] put down an insane run. It was a strong second heat.
It’s definitely a really rail-heavy course. The jumps get weighed heavily as far as what you do on them because you only have two of them to take advantage of. But there are so many rails that it kind of becomes a rail course. So you have to really stand out on those and still hold your own on the jumps.
Joss Christensen It was a pretty rough day out there. The jumps were sticky; the rails were sticky. The rails were actually what scared me the most. I’m a little bit bigger than everyone—I feel like I had a little more weight coming in, so I wasn’t having as much trouble with the jumps. I couldn’t slide the second middle down rail, so luckily I did one more run before training was over and changed it up and it ended up working out for me. Tomorrow I’m going for the rail run.
I love being able to have a contest in Park City. This is the second year now that we’ve had a real platinum-level event at Park City. The park crew always puts together a good park. It was a little hard at first, but they listen to the athletes and changed the course and made it really good for us. I love being able to sleep in my own bed, have my own car and be on my own program. That helps me out a lot, but at the same time there is quite a bit of pressure being here, especially when my face is on all the posters. I think that pushes me, because I really want to do well and show how much I love skiing in my hometown.
Almost all of the pro team is heading into finals, so it’s going to be a good contest. It’s going to be fun and we’ll show America what we’re all about.
Tom Wallisch Today ended up working out really well. It was snowy for heat one and then windy here in the afternoon for heat two. It was a difficult course, hard to get the speed, but I was happy to put down a run and make it through. I’ve spent a lot of years competing—it’s kind of like a second thing for me now because I’m focusing on the film aspect. But it helps a lot. All the handrails that we’re hitting and filming is such good practice for the rail features in a course like this. With a course that has more rails than jumps, it’s a good skill set to have and it helps me.
I feel a little older than all of these guys, so I’m just happy to still be out here doing it. It’s great to come and ski so many parks and compete in so many different places. And you can’t pass up an opportunity to ski at home.