Local snowboarders and skiers target Olympic teams in tryout events
Snowboard cross and ski cross athletes compete on Beijing course in test event while Chris Corning eyes big air tryout
The World Cup snowboard cross and ski cross season kicked off at Zhangijakou’s Secret Garden resort Nov. 25-28. The Olympic test event was also a U.S. Olympic tryout for a trio of athletes with local connections.
Canadian Olympian Chris Del Bosco placed 22nd in the ski cross event, which was won by Russian Sergey Ridzik. His teammate, Brady Leman, finished in second. Del Bosco was the third-fastest North American in the field.
Del Bosco hails from Eagle-Vail and has qualified for the Olympics in ski cross every time the sport has been contested (2010, Vancouver; 2014, Sochi; 2018, Pyeongchang). He memorably finished in fourth at the 2010 Olympics when he crashed attempting to maneuver into a gold-medal spot right before the finish line.
The only American in the field was Steamboat Springs native Brant Crossan, who placed 54th in qualification and did not make it into the rounds.
Eagle resident Meghan Tierney, who qualified for the 2018 Olympics despite a slow start to the 2017-2018 season, finished in 18th place. Tierney was 0.09 seconds away from qualifying for the 16-person finals, ending her day as the third American. Stacy Gaskill was eighth and Faye Gulini was 10th.
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Vail’s Senna Leith, who won four consecutive NorAms back in 2017 and garnered his first World Cup podium in January 2020, was 39th in qualifications (+4.03 seconds off the leader), did not secure a spot for the 32-bracket final.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s athlete selection procedures states that the selection process for both snowboard cross and ski cross is based on specific tryout events and rankings from the FIS points list. These early races will be influential in determining who makes it to the Olympics for team U.S.A.
There are three more specific tryout weekends on the calendar for both ski cross and snowboard cross, which are listed below.
Montafon, Italy Dec. 10-11
Cervina, Italy Dec. 17-18
Krasnoyarsk #1, Russia Jan. 8
Krasnoyarsk #2, Russia Jan. 9
Val Thorens #1, France Dec. 10
Val Thorens # 2, France Dec. 11
Innichen #1, Italy Dec. 19
Innichen #2, Italy Dec. 20
Nakiska #1, Canada Jan. 14
Nakiska #2, Canada Jan. 15
The International Olympic Committee has designated a maximum of 26 slots for any one nation across all snowboarding events and 30 slots for all events in Freestyle/Freeski. The maximum quota for any one event, per gender, is four.
Objective criteria are first applied to fill the quota, with unfilled slots (if any) filled through discretionary selection procedures.
The objective criteria for snowboard cross involve first selecting the top two highest-ranked athletes, per gender, from the FIS Points List issued on Dec. 22. The athlete must be ranked within the top six of the rankings. The third quota slot and any quota slot remaining unfilled by this first criteria will be allocated based on an athlete having at least one top-three result in the identified tryout events. If no athletes have a top-three result, discretionary selection procedures will be used. The ski cross team will be chosen following the same procedures, but using the FIS Ski Cross Points list issued on Dec. 22.
Corning gears up for sole big air Olympic tryout event
Avon resident Chris Corning, the 2019 slopestyle world champion and 2017 bronze medalist in the same event, will be gearing up for the Visa Big Air in Steamboat Springs, Colorado this weekend. The event, running Thursday through Saturday at Steamboat Ski Resort, will be the first and only big air qualifying event for the 2022 Olympics. The big air event premiered at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, where Corning placed fourth.
In October, Corning tied for 13th in the Chur (Switzerland) World Cup big air opener. Brock Crouch was the top American finisher, placing fourth. Being the second American is significant for the 22-year-old Corning.
Like snowboard cross and freeskiing events, the slopestyle and big air teams will be chosen through objective and discretionary criteria. The top two highest-ranking athletes in each event, per gender, from the WSPL issued on Dec. 22 will fill the first two quota slots, with the third coming from an athlete having one top-three result in one of the tryout events. As the Visa Big Air is the only big air tryout, the podium is certain to have Olympic ramifications.