Field set for today’s semifinals, finals |

Field set for today’s semifinals, finals

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyAn U.S. Free Skiing Open competitor launches himself off the first kicker on the slopestyle course during the Slopestyle qualifiers Thursday at Golden Peak.

VAIL – On Thursday at the U.S. Freeskiing Open, the PA announcers creatively dubbed the poachers on course – prequalifiers taking practice runs during the day’s three qualifying heats – as cannon fodder. The name was pretty self-explanatory. The skiers hucking themselves off the two kicker jumps on the slopestyle course between qualifying runs gave off the appearance they were being shot out of a cannon. Today, the tag may have new meaning.The 24 qualifiers who made it through the first two days of men’s slopestyle competition now get their shot to take on the 19 prequalifiers – a who’s-who list of freeskiing stars – in today’s slopestyle semifinal heats, which will be followed by finals for both the women and the men.Cannon fodder? Unquestionably, that is what freeskiing’s biggest names are looking to turn the up-and-comers into when the first semifinal heat kicks off at 8:45 a.m.It doesn’t mean it will happen. Last year, freeskiing superstar Tanner Hall, who won the Open’s slopestyle final in 2003, ended up in fourth place behind newcomers TJ Schiller and Tanner Rainville, who finished first and third, respectively. Hall was noticeably upset after last year’s final, but appeared to be in good spirits Thursday when asked about what he had in store for today’s final throwdown.”I can’t tell you what to expect, just to expect some nice (expletive) stuff,” he said.He also said, despite a blow-up with event organizers last year after his fourth-place slopestyle finish, for which he later apologized, that the Open is an important competition for both big names and small names alike.”It’s good,” he said. “Kids get stoked when they get a chance to see us. It’s just a good comp to do. This is one of the biggest comps in skiing. This is where more kids come to get their chance, and that’s definitely good.”From all overEighteen-year-old Norwegian Andreas Hatveit was the top-ranked skier in Thursday’s last-chance qualifier – a final chance for eight skiers, out of a field of 16, to make it into today’s semifinal heats.Hatveit, who on his second run threw a blindside 360 on the kinked box at the top of the course and finished with a stylish corked 900 off the last kicker, is just one of the many skiers in Friday’s field to travel a long way to compete in this year’s Open.”This is my second time in America,” Hatveit said. “I’m super stoked about making it in slopestyle, because really, I’m only here for superpipe. Rossignol got me into the slopestyle yesterday, but then I was disqualified because I was riding for someone else. Then, five minutes before it started today, they said I was in again. I only got one practice run, but it was OK. On the first run, I had my pipe skis, so I got hung up on the second rail and slammed. I hurt my arm. Then, I got my park skis and the rails worked out good.”Nineteen-year-old Colby West, of Canterbury, N.H., is another Open first-timer, like Hatveit, to make it to today’s semifinal heats.

After finishing fourth in the fourth qualifying heat Thursday, West said he was stoked about the chance to compete against his sport’s heavy hitters today.”I’m excited about it,” he said. “There’s a lot of good skiers here, and it’s a chance for all the kids to come out. It is surprising how many good kids there are that you’ve never heard of, who are coming out here for their first time.” Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at Today’s schedule7:30- 8:30 a.m. – Slopestyle course inspection8:45-10:15 a.m. – Slopestyle semifinals, Heat 110:30.-12:00 p.m. – Slopestyle semifinals, Heat 212:152:15 p.m. – Women’s semifinal and finals slopestyle2:303:30 p.m. – Slopestyle men’s finals3:30 p.m. (directly following finals) – Slopestyle awards ceremony at the awards stage2:00-4:00 p.m. – Crossmax inspection immediately following slopestyle finalsMen’s semifinal qualifiersHeat 1

1. Tyler Peterson, LCQ-7th place2. Matt Philippi, prequalifier3. Kyler Cooley, Heat 1, 3rd place4. John Lafferty, LCQ, 2nd place5. AJ Burton, Heat 1, 1st place6. Mike Henitiuk, Heat 2, 4th place7. Tanner Rainville, prequalifier8. Austin Ramaley, prequalifier9. TJ Schiller, prequalifier10. Derek Spong, Heat 3, 2nd place11. Sammy Carlsen, Heat 4, 3rd place12. Mike Riddle, LCQ, 8th place13. Corey Vanular, LCQ, 4th place14. Charles Ager, Heat 3, 4th place15. Laurent Thevenet, Heat 2, 2nd place16. Stefan Thomas, prequalifier

17. Peter Olenick, prequalifier18. Charles Gagnier, prequalifier19. Jon Olsson, prequalifier20. Andy Mahre, LCQ, 6th place21. Pep Fujas, Heat 4, 1st placeHeat 222. Nick Mercon, prequalifier23. Blake Nyman, Heat 2, 1st place24. Tosh Peters, LCQ, 5th place25. Ryan McPherson, Heat 3, 3rd place26. Tommy Ellingson, LCQ, 3rd place27. Laurent Favre, prequalifier28. Rory Bushfield, prequalifier29. CR Johnson, prequalifier30. Mikael Deschenaux, prequalifier

31. Ian Cosco, Heat 1, 2nd place32. Andy Woods, prequalifier33. Henrik Windstedt, prequalifier34. Steele Spence, Heat 4, 2nd place35. Josh Bibby, prequalifier36. John Spriggs, Heat 1, 4th place37. Andreas Hatveit, LCQ, 1st place38. Simon Dumont, prequalifier39. Jacob Wester, Heat 3, 1st place40. Colby West, Heat 4, 4th place41. Tanner Hall, prequalifier42. Tom Dolezel, Heat 2, 3rd place43. Michael Olenick, prequalifierVail Colorado

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