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Shaun White delivers best score of halfpipe qualifier

Snowboard - Winter Olympics Day 4

competes in the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe Qualification Heats on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Cameron Spencer

Shaun White admitted he was antsy heading into his attempt to win a third consecutive gold in the snowboard halfpipe, but it looks like he channeled that energy in a positive direction. He topped all qualifying competitors with a 95.75 score on Tuesday, punching his ticket to the final round in the process.

U.S. snowboarded Danny Davis still looms as a wild card threat, as he also advanced straight to the finals.

Others who clinched finals appearances included: Ayumu Hirano, Christian Haller, David Habluetzel and. Taku Hiraoka.

Hirano, 15, is a prodigy who’s making an argument that he could be a force in the present as well as the future.

As far as those who must pass through the semifinals, the list includes: Gregory Bretz, Taylor Gold, Kent Callister, Nathan Johnstone, Iouri Podladtchikov, Jan Scherrer, Arthur Longo, Tim-Kevin Ravnjak, Wancheng Shi, Seamus O’Connor, Johann Baisamy and Yiwei Zhang.

Bretz and Gold are U.S. snowboarders of some note. Bretz, 23, is particularly interesting because he accomplished the rare feat of topping White in a halfpipe event, as he won the 2013 Dew Tour event.

Podladtchikov (aka “I-Pod”) is often described as a snowboarder who’s merely a step or so behind White when it comes to pulling off high-level tricks, so he’s another intriguing name for the semifinals.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins