Five American mogul skiers on Thursday advanced straight to this weekend's final rounds during the opening freestyle skiing competition of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Jaelin Kauf, Olivia Giaccio and Hannah Soar placed a respective third, fourth and seventh in the first women's qualifying round, while Cole McDonald and Dylan Walczyk took fifth and 10th on the men's side. All were among the top-10 skiers, earning them a direct trip to the finals without having to compete in qualifying round two.
Australian Jakara Anthony, the 2019 world silver medalist, and defending Olympic gold medalist Perrine Laffont of France were the two women ahead of Kauf and Giaccio. Kauf had the quickest run by more than three-quarters of a second and Anthony scored best in both air and turns.
Defending gold medalist Mikael Kingsbury of Canada led the men's field, followed by Sweden's Walter Wallberg and Frenchman Ben Cavet.
"I was really happy with my skiing," said McDonald, who is 18. "That top jump – a little bit of a wheelie-out on that bottom air and I think [the judges] probably got me a little bit on that but I'm still happy with the score. I think it's a pretty solid score for my first Olympic run.
"I'm happy how I handled the nerves up there – I mean, I've been doing a lot of sports psychology and it's really paid off, I felt really cool and calm."
American Kai Owens, still healing from a training crash on Tuesday that bruised her face, did not start. She'll have a chance to make the finals in the second qualifying round, as will 2019 world dual moguls silver medalist Brad Wilson, who lost rhythm and abandoned his first run.
Men's qualifying continues Saturday with a second round, followed by finals, while women's qualifying No. 2 and finals take place Sunday.