(Photo above: Torin Yater-Wallace is on a mission to redeem himself at Dew Tour Breckenridge after injuring himself four years ago during Olympic qualify. Photo: Baldwin)
Men’s Freeski Halfpipe
The United States is absolutely stacked in ski halfpipe. So much so that the battle to make the Olympic team looks like it could be just as much of a challenge as actually winning the Olympics.
In last year’s AFP halfpipe rankings, the U.S. had seven skiers inside the top 13. In the FIS World Cup rankings, those same seven skiers were all inside the top 11.
As a result, this should be one of the most intriguing situations to monitor during the upcoming Olympic selection period. Whichever four skiers end up making the U.S. team should all have medal potential in PyeongChang.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 6th; FIS World Cup: 4th
Four years ago, Yater-Wallace got hurt at Dew Tour while trying to qualify for the Olympic team, and though he still ended up getting named to the team as a coaches’ pick, health was clearly a factor in Sochi. Last February in Mammoth, Yater-Wallace won the first selection event for men’s halfpipe, so he’ll be able to book his ticket to PyeongChang for a shot at Olympic redemption if he wins another one. That puts him in the driver’s seat for one of the Olympic team spots as it stands right now.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 9th; FIS World Cup: 10th
Kenworthy won a silver medal for slopestyle at the last Olympics and would really like to add a halfpipe medal to his collection in 2018. First though, he’ll have to make the team. A second-place finish at the first selection event has him in a good position, though he’ll need to get at least one more strong result in the remaining contests. And yes, he’s in the running for the slopestyle team as well.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 4th; FIS World Cup: 5th
At 27 years old, Seaton is coming off arguably the best season of his career. The stylish skier earned himself a spot on U.S. Freeskiing’s pro halfpipe team this year thanks to a bevy of podium finishes, including a significant third-place result at the first selection event.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 12th; FIS World Cup: 9th
The reigning Olympic gold medalist, David Wise has big tricks like the double cork 1440 that make him a very strong contender. He’s coming off a down year though, as he didn’t really have any notable results other than a fourth-place finish at the world championships.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 1st; FIS World Cup: 3rd
Is Aaron Blunck the early favorite for Olympic gold? He certainly made his case last season with gold medals at X Games and the world championships, as well as an AFP halfpipe title. About the only thing Blunck didn’t do last year was get a podium finish at the first selection event.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 13th; FIS World Cup: 6th
Ferreira has technical tricks and can go absolutely massive in the pipe. He won the last World Cup event of the 2016/17 season and the first World Cup event of the 2017/18 season, so he’s on a bit of a hot streak right now.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 5th; FIS World Cup: 11th
The youngest member of the U.S. pro halfpipe team, 18-year-old Birk Irving is on the rise. He scored a gold medal at the Youth Olympics in 2016 and nearly landed on the podium at X Games last season. He’s also got a younger sister, Svea Irving, who is trying to qualify for the women’s halfpipe team.
Women’s Freeski Halfpipe
The U.S. has a lot of depth on the women’s side too, led by the reigning Olympic champion.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 3rd; FIS World Cup: 5th
After winning gold four years ago at the Sochi Winter Games, Bowman is expected to make the 2018 Olympic team and contend for another medal. She remains one of the most technical skiers in the field, with tricks like back-to-back 900s and the switch 900.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 4th; FIS World Cup: 3rd
Drew is coming off a solid, consistent season, finishing no worse than sixth at any contest last year. She’s been a force for progression over the years and is one of the only female skiers landing 1080s in her runs. Drew competed at the last Olympics, finishing ninth.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 6th; FIS World Cup: 7th
Sigourney is another skier with Olympic experience -- she finished sixth in 2014. She was the second-best American (behind Maddie Bowman) at the first selection event, which earned her valuable points. She finished just outside podium position in fourth place though, so she still needs two podium results in order to meet the prerequisite for automatic selection.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 7th; FIS World Cup: 11th
Margulies, 19, is the youngest skier on the U.S. women’s pro halfpipe team. She kicked off the current season with a fifth-place finish at Winter Games New Zealand, which was one of the top results among U.S. skiers.
2017 Rankings -- AFP: 11th; FIS World Cup: 6th
Logan is an Olympic silver medalist for slopestyle but missed out on the halfpipe team in 2014. She’ll once again be attempting to qualify in both disciplines for PyeongChang. Last season, Logan showcased her podium potential in halfpipe with a bronze medal at the world championships and a runner-up finish at the Olympic test event that was held in PyeongChang.
Related U.S. Olympic post:
Our Top Picks for the U.S. Olympic Ski Slopestyle Team