Twelve snowboarders will compete for gold Monday in the men's slopestyle final at the 2022 Winter Olympics, and NBC and Peacock will be there to capture it all.
Among them is defending gold medalist Red Gerard of the U.S., who surprised even himself by seizing the 2018 PyeongChang title at just 17 years, 226 days old, becoming the youngest champion in Olympic snowboarding history. He slept in late the morning of the final and sealed the win on his last run.
Now 21, the slopestyle specialist remains the favorite despite the target on his back. He had a stellar U.S. Olympic qualifying season, placing runner-up at last March's Aspen Grand Prix before defending his Dew Tour title in December and taking last month's Mammoth Grand Prix with back-to-back 1620s.
Gerard placed fifth in Sunday's qualifying round behind leader Su Yiming of China, Canada's Mark McMorris, fellow American Sean FitzSimons and Norway's Staale Sandbech. Squeezing in at the No. 11 spot was Chris Corning of the U.S., the 2019 world champion.
Notably missing the top-12 cutoff: Sandbech's compatriot and reigning world champion Marcus Kleveland, and 2020 Youth Olympic gold medalist Dusty Henricksen of the U.S., who in 2021 became the first American man to win an X Games slopestyle title since Shaun White did so in 2009.
Su, 17, won December's Big Air Steamboat contest with backside and frontside 1800s to become China's first athlete to win a World Cup big air event. Last fall, he landed a backside triple cork 1980 in Stubai, Austria, the first time a spin of that caliber had been put down since 2017 when Yuki Kadono landed one in training.
FitzSimons' strong showing in qualifying perhaps supports a distinction as the event's dark horse. The Oregon native took fourth at December's Dew Tour before executing a breakout victory performance at last month's Laax Open in Switzerland, not only his first World Cup win but first podium of any kind on the circuit.
Six-time X Games slopestyle champion McMorris earned consecutive bronzes at both the 2014 and 2018 Games. Two of his teammates join him in the final: reigning Olympic silver medalist Max Parrot, and Sebastien Toutant, or "Seb Toots," defending gold medalist in big air and winner of last month's Calgary Snow Rodeo.
The other four competitors are 2019 X Games big air winner Takeru Otsuka of Japan, 2018 Olympic slopestyle 12th-place finisher Mons Roisland of Norway, Otsuka's compatriot Kaito Hamada and Italian Emiliano Lauzi.
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