Big Air Olympic qualifier coming to Steamboat Resort in early December
Olympic hopefuls will flock to Steamboat Resort for the Visa Big Air competition this December. Slopestyle freeski athletes and freestyle snowboarders will compete Dec. 2 to 4 at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex in what will be the only big air qualifying event for the 2022 Olympics. Freeski big air is making its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022, while snowboard big air is making its second Olympic appearance.
“We love working with U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and it was an awesome opportunity when they reached out,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Communications Manager Maren Franciosi said. “We were happy to get on board and work with them. Of course, we always enjoy hosting events like this. Our Olympic heritage and roots run deep so it makes a lot of sense for us to host events like this.”
There will be designated space for spectators, who must reach the venue by skiing or boarding from the Christie Peak Express chairlift.
Action kicks off Thursday with Snowboard Big Air qualifying heats at 9:55 a.m. The men will have two heats of qualifications, while the women will have one.
The same format will repeat for the skiers beginning at 9:55 a.m. Dec. 3. Saturday will be the finals starting with snowboarding at 9:30 a.m. and skiing at 1 p.m. Following Saturday’s finals will be a free concert featuring Ozomatli at the stage in Steamboat Square.
Those who qualify for the Olympics in big air must compete in slopestyle as well. Generally, athletes already compete in both.
The Visa Big Air competition is the only big air qualifier, but there are three other slopestyle qualifiers. The cumulative ranking in the four events helps determine some of the Team USA selections.
Thursday, Dec. 2
Snowboard Big Air Qualifications
10 a.m. Men’s Snowboard Qualifications
2 p.m. Women’s Snowboard Qualifications
Friday, Dec. 3
Freeski Big Air Qualifications
10 a.m. Men’s Freeski Qualifications
2 p.m. Women’s Freeski Qualifications
Saturday, Dec. 4
Snowboard Big Air Finals, Freeski Big Air Finals
9:30 a.m. Snowboard Big Air Finals
1 p.m. Freeski Big Air Finals
Awards immediately following in competition venue
3 p.m. Make it Count Free Concert powered by Jack Daniels featuring Ozomatli
“It’s exciting to watch the athletes that are on their way to the Winter Games compete here right in front of us,” Franciosi said. “We’re watching history be made, right here.”
In the 2018 Olympics, American Jamie Anderson took second in Pyeongchang, South Korea, behind Austria’s Anna Gasser. Three other Americans finished in the top 15.
In the men’s snowboard big air competition, American Kyle Mack earned second as Canadian boarder Sebastien Toutant took first. Chris Corning and Red Gerard, both out of Colorado finished fourth and fifth.
Snowboarding: Red Gerard (USA), Brock Crouch (USA), Chris Corning (USA), Dusty Henricksen (USA), Mark McMorris (CAN), Julia Marino (USA) Kokomo Murase (JPN), Anna Gasser (AUT), Zoi Sadowski Synnot (NZL)
Freeski: Nick Goepper (USA), Mac Forehand (USA), Cody Laplante (USA), Alex Hall (USA), Maggie Voisin (USA), Colby Stevenson (USA), Tess Ledeux (FRA), Sarah Hoefflin (SUI), Matej Svancer (AUT), Teal Harle (CAN)
Freeski big air hasn’t yet made its Olympic debut but it’s been in the X Games. At X Games Aspen 2021, Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland won gold, while Canadian Megan Oldham and Chinese athlete Eileen Gu took second and third. Maggie Voisin, who competes in slopestyle and big air competitions at X Games, will likely be the strongest skier at the big air competition.
Who will actually show up will be determined a little closer to the event.
Later in the month, Copper Mountain will host a U.S. Grand Prix for freeski and snowboard halfpipe competitions. In early January, Mammoth Mountain will host a U.S. Grand Prix for halfpipe and slopestyle.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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