By Jack Tarrant
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Aaron Blunck led the United States’ domination in the qualification for the men’s ski halfpipe final at the Pyeongchang Olympics with the Americans securing the top three spots on Tuesday.
Blunck top-scored on the day, scoring 94.40 in his second run to edge compatriots Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace into second and third respectively.
It means the United States will have the last three skiers to drop in when the final takes place on Thursday.
The fourth American to qualify, Sochi gold medallist David Wise, finished in eighth place.
The other two men on the podium four years ago, Canada’s Mike Riddle and France’s Kevin Rolland, also qualified comfortably.
The 27 competitors all had two runs to record their best score, with the top 12 skiers progressing to the final.
It was a good afternoon for New Zealand, who saw brothers Byron and Beau-James Wells qualify in fourth and fifth place respectively. Their brother Jackson competed in the slopestyle earlier in the week.
There was a worrying moment mid-way through the second round, as Switzerland’s Joel Gisler came down hard on the lip of the halfpipe, popping out of his skis and falling into the pipe headfirst.
Fortunately, Gisler was able to get to his feet and walk out of the pipe, with assistance from medical staff. Gisler failed to qualify in the top 12.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)