Olympic preview: Men's freeski halfpipe

Four years ago, U.S. freeskiers swept the podium in men's slopestyle. Could there be a sweep in the halfpipe this ti...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 12:38 AM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 12:38 AM

Four years ago, U.S. freeskiers swept the podium in men's slopestyle. Could there be a sweep in the halfpipe this time around?

Each nation that earns quota spots can only send a maximum of four halfpipe skiers to PyeongChang. The Olympic selection process for the U.S. halfpipe team was a brutal one, with several world-class talents such as Gus Kenworthy missing the team. (Kenworthy did make the slopestyle team though.)

Over the course of the Olympic selection events, the deep U.S. team was paired down to its final four, and all four of those skiers have the talent to win gold.

As for the possibility of a medal sweep, that's in play too. Three U.S. skiers made up the podium at last month's X Games, which is as close to an Olympic preview as it gets. And in the qualifying round in PyeongChang, it was three Americans at the top of the leaderboard.

Here's a look at the stars of the halfpipe — from the U.S. and rest of the world — who will be hunting for medals during Thursday's final (Wednesday night in the U.S.).

Team USA

A look at the four U.S. skiers looking to make history.

David Wise: The defending Olympic champion. Wise won the inaugural ski halfpipe Olympic competition in 2014, and though his results were down in recent years, he's reestablished himself as the favorite for gold in PyeongChang. A big reason for that is his performance last month at X Games, where he became the first halfpipe skier to land four double corks in four different directions (left, right, switch left and switch right) in a competition run. Wise is likely to attempt a similar run in the Olympic halfpipe final, and if he lands it, he could be very tough to beat.

Alex Ferreira: The only first-time Olympian on the team. A life-long friend of teammate Torin Yater-Wallace, Ferreira gets huge amplitude in his runs and can unleash multiple doubles. He's also on fire right now. So far this season, Ferreira has finished second or better in five of the six contests he's entered.

Torin Yater-Wallace: In 2014, Yater-Wallace made his Olympic debut but was plagued by injuries and was unable to land a run in the qualifying round. About two years ago, had a scary, life-threatening experience after a trip to the hospital led the doctors to discover that a bacterial strain had caused an abscess within his liver and was attacking his gall bladder. Doctors had to place him in a medically induced state of paralysis for 10 days. His recovery began right away, and a few months later, he won a gold medal at an X Games contest in Norway. Entering PyeongChang, Yater-Wallace is healthy and a medal contender once again. He won bronze last month at X Games Aspen.

Aaron Blunck: A technically proficient skier with one of the more unique runs in the field. He's one year removed from winning the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) halfpipe title and an X Games gold medal. Blunck finished seventh at the last Olympics but is the top qualifier headed into the final in PyeongChang and will have the benefit of being the last skier to drop.

The Rest of the World

A look at some of the international skiers who could end up on the podium.

Canada: Mike Riddle won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but the biggest challenger in PyeongChang could be Noah Bowman, who attempts a lot of switch tricks and has very unique halfpipe runs.

France: Because of his ability to generate extremely high amplitude, Kevin Rolland has earned the nickname "The Flying Frenchman." His career accolades include three X Games titles and the 2014 Olympic bronze medal.

New Zealand: Two pairs of brothers make up the full team: Beau-James and Byron Wells, and Miguel and Nico Porteous. All except for Miguel Porteous successfully advanced to the final. At age 16, Nico Porteous is the youngest skier in the field and a rising talent. The Wells brothers were the only non-Americans inside the top five during the qualifying round.

How to Watch

NBCOlympics.com will be streaming every round of every competition live online. Links to each stream are below.

Men's Final: Wednesday, Feb. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET
LIVE STREAM

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93556

Reported Deaths: 2810
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6974155
DeSoto541155
Harrison373272
Jackson338867
Madison320886
Rankin319075
Lee260667
Jones242078
Forrest239070
Washington217971
Lafayette208439
Lauderdale1999124
Bolivar179465
Oktibbeha175050
Lamar163134
Neshoba1536103
Panola144027
Sunflower141744
Lowndes139957
Warren138150
Leflore136980
Pontotoc123416
Pike121248
Monroe118865
Scott116425
Copiah116233
Coahoma112327
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106753
Grenada106135
Yazoo103829
Simpson101143
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91936
Wayne87721
Pearl River86550
Marion84133
Prentiss81117
Covington80522
Alcorn77311
Itawamba76221
Newton75723
Tallahatchie75418
George74913
Winston72419
Tishomingo65837
Chickasaw65524
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57817
Hancock56121
Jasper55415
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52314
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41714
Perry40718
Quitman3745
Humphreys37315
Stone35511
Greene34517
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2429
Benton2191
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131405

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19015337
Mobile13066289
Montgomery8674173
Madison758375
Tuscaloosa7240114
Lee571359
Shelby568450
Baldwin506149
Marshall383543
Etowah335547
Calhoun333839
Morgan319726
Houston270822
Elmore254947
DeKalb235519
St. Clair223435
Walker222680
Talladega206926
Limestone199519
Cullman184517
Dallas174826
Franklin174328
Russell17132
Autauga169024
Lauderdale164633
Colbert160626
Escambia156225
Blount155114
Jackson150611
Chilton148527
Dale133043
Covington130927
Coffee12778
Pike11559
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113042
Clarke104917
Marion94228
Butler90938
Barbour8357
Winston70912
Marengo69919
Lowndes64827
Pickens63514
Bibb63210
Hale61528
Randolph60812
Bullock58714
Lawrence58520
Monroe5758
Geneva5724
Cherokee56516
Washington54613
Clay5427
Perry5376
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52331
Macon47720
Henry4724
Fayette4219
Sumter41819
Lamar3462
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3236
Greene30015
Coosa1643
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 61°
Columbus
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 61°
Starkville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 61°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather