Shaun White’s back. But Yuto’s still on top.
It’s going to be an epic final despite Scotty skipping the final event of the season.
White scored 91.50 and qualified second behind Yuto Totsuka (94.25), who is fresh off a 4 event winner streak – 2020 US Open Gold, Laax Gold, X Games Gold and the world championship title last week.
“I was a little nervous. Obviously it’s been a minute,” White said. “Just shaking off the cobwebs of it all. The run came together perfectly and I’m stoked.”
“The coaches are the guys I used to compete with,” White joked of being one of the oldest competitors. His first Winter X Games medal came in 2002, about four months after Totsuka was born. “Now it’s just about resting and giving it my all on Sunday. But I’m pumped. I just love snowboarding. It’s so much fun. It feels good to be back at it.”
Qualifying third on Thursday was Switzerland’s David Habluetzel (88), followed in fourth by Germany’s Andre Hoeflich (86.50) and in fifth by Steamboat Springs native Taylor Gold (84.50).
Rounding out the finals qualifiers are Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer (81), Japan’s Raibu Katayama (79), Longmont’s Chase Blackwell (76.25), Telluride’s Lucas Foster (72) and Japan’s Ikko Anai (67.50).
No surprise, Chloe Kim leads women’s halfpipe qualifying
The women’s snowboard halfpipe qualifier was business as usual with California’s Chloe Kim again leading the way. The reigning X Games and world champion scored 93.25 on her first and only necessary run Thursday to make it into Sunday’s final.
“This is my first time riding since world champs finals, so I’m really happy I was able to put a run down here and qualify. I think I’m just going to let my ankle heal.”
Qualifying second behind Kim on Thursday was Spain’s Queralt Castellet (91.50), followed in third by California’s Maddie Mastro (86.50). Mastro was second and Castellet third behind Kim at the world championships.
“I feel like it is a pipe that it allows you to improve when you are having fun,” Castellet said of Buttermilk’s superpipe. “We got a lot of days riding here and we had a good opportunity to get used to the transitions very well.”
Japan’s Sena Tomita (85.50), Haruna Matsumoto (81.25) and Kurumi Imai (79.50), went 4-5-6, respectively, in qualifying, while Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking was seventh (78.75) and Japan’s Mitsuki Ono was eighth (76.75) to round out the field for finals.
Slopestyle | A heater line-up for finals
Red Gerard, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle, led the first heat in qualifying for the finals in front of Canada’s Max Parrot (85.75), Henkes (82.50), Canada’s Liam Brearley (82.25), Switzerland’s Moritz Thoenen (80.75) and Japan’s Hiroaki Kunitake (80.50).
In heat two, Norway’s Marcus Kleveland, who won world slopestyle gold last week, continued strong form with a 94 followed by Finland’s Rene Rinnekangas (89.50), Henricksen (86.50), Canada’s Mark McMorris (84), Russia’s Vlad Khadarin (82.50) and Norway’s Markus Olimstad (81.50).
In the women a strong line up of women qualified for the finals, despite World Champ Zoi Sadowski-Synnott missing the final event of the season
Japan’s Kokomo Murase led the way with 84.38. Julia Marino was second (81.20), while California’s Hailey Langland qualified 3rd.
In fourth was Tahoe icon Jamie Anderson (77.46) followed by Austria’s Anna Gasser (76.10), Canada’s Laurie Blouin (73.13), Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi (70.08) and Australia’s Tess Coady (68.03).