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Alex Ferreira clinches Olympic ski halfpipe spot; gold medalist still on bubble

Alex Ferreira suffered his first loss of the season but still took second at the first of two Calgary Snow Rodeo ski halfpipe World Cups, hitting a sweet double cork flat spin on his third run of the final for a 94.80.

Alex Ferreira, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in ski halfpipe, is going back to the Games. Will two-time gold medalist David Wise join him in Beijing?

Ferreira wrapped up his Olympic spot by placing second in the fourth of six qualifying events on Thursday in Calgary. Canadian Brendan Mackay won.

Ferreira now has two wins and a runner-up among the four qualifiers. The only other American man with a first- or second-place finish is Aaron Blunck, who didn’t compete Thursday and didn’t enter Saturday’s fifth qualifier (broadcast schedule here), either, mathematically ensuring Ferreira’s spot on the Olympic team.

The top two American men in next week’s world rankings update, provided they are top six in the world, will also get in (this is prioritized over the pathway of best podium results in qualifying events). Blunck is currently No. 1. Other Americans in contention for that pathway are No. 4 Birk Irving, No. 7 Wise, No. 8 Ferreira and No. 9 Lyman Currier.

That’s five Americans ranked in the top nine in the world. But no more than four can go to the Olympics.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Olympic team

Wise, who won the first two Olympic men’s ski halfpipe titles in 2014 and 2018, did himself no favors Thursday, finishing eighth. In the four qualifiers, his best finish is fourth.

Irving has a pair of fourth-place finishes. Currier, a 2014 Olympian, notched his best finish of the qualifying events on Thursday with a fifth.

It’s likely that one or two men will be added to the team via discretionary selection later in January (likely two if Blunck and Ferreira get in via world rankings, and no other American gets a podium finish in qualifiers).

In 2018, Ferreira had three of the top four runs in the Olympic final. But he was relegated to silver when Wise posted the best score in his final run. After that, Ferreira won X Games Aspen in 2019 and 2020, before dropping to seventh last year. His world ranking does not reflect his status as an Olympic medal favorite.

On the women’s side, 17-year-old American Hanna Faulhaber earned her second podium in selection events, finishing second to Olympic super favorite Eileen Gu of China on Thursday.

Olympic bronze medalist Brita Sigourney is the other American with a podium finish among the qualifiers.

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