Chris Corning qualifies for first Olympic snowboard team
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — The U.S. Olympic snowboard team has added its third member in under 24 hours.
Dew Tour Breckenridge hosted the third of five selection events for the U.S. Olympic snowboard slopestyle and big air team on Saturday. Thanks to a second-place finish, Chris Corning was able to confirm his nomination onto his first-ever Olympic team.
Not only did Corning have big tricks like a switch backside 1260 and a backside triple cork 1440 in his run, he also had a variety of unique grabs on his tricks.
Corning's run was bested only by Canadian star Max Parrot, who put down technical tricks in the rail sections and a triple cork 1440 on the final jump. Norway's Mons Roisland, who attempted to add a switch backside 1620 to his run later in the contest but couldn't land it, finished third.
Last week, Corning was the top American at the big air qualifier at Copper Mountain. He placed second overall in that contest as well.
"It's crazy to be up here on the podium with these guys. I've looked up to these guys for such a long time," 18-year-old Corning said afterward. "And then being on the Olympic team is a crazy feeling, because we've worked so hard to get here."
Red Gerard looks likely to join Corning on the Olympic team after finishing second among Americans. The 17-year-old won the first slopestyle qualifier, which was held last season, and now has a pair of top-two finishes among U.S. riders. That means he's likely to secure a spot on the team at one of the final two selection events.
The U.S. men enter the PyeongChang Olympics as underdogs in slopestyle and big air snowboarding. Sage Kotsenburg was a surprise gold medalist in Sochi, but this event has been dominated by riders from Canada and Norway in recent years.
Corning, a relative unknown just a few years ago who is now one of snowboarding's biggest rising stars, is optimistic that he can keep the strong results coming as the PyeongChang Olympics approach, though he acknowledges that much of it is out of his control.
"I've been competing with these guys for a while, and we do contests together all the time, so I pretty well know what their tricks are going to be," Corning said. "But you can't really think about it too much because you've got to do your run, and what the judges score your run, they score your run. You can't really change anything about it."
The final two Olympic qualifiers for the slopestyle and big air team will take place in January.
Breckenridge Olympic Qualifier Results
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle
1. Max Parrot (CAN), 97.00
2. Chris Corning (USA), 95.00
3. Mons Roisland (NOR), 92.00
4. Red Gerard (USA), 91.00
5. Judd Henkes (USA), 87.00
Olympic Qualifying Standings
Men's Snowboard Slopestyle/Big Air
1. Chris Corning, 2000**
2. Red Gerard, 1800*
3. Chandler Hunt, 1160*
4. Judd Henkes, 1100
5. Kyle Mack, 1000*
*Has met minimum of one top-three finish.
*Has confirmed nomination to U.S. Olympic team.