Shaun White clinches Olympic berth in slopestyle with win at Mammoth Mountain
Shaun White can breathe easy, having qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in slopestyle snowboarding by winning the fourth of five selection events.
White, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, prevailed with 95.20 points in the first of his two runs in the second of two finals in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Thursday.
White opted not to take his second run, a decision that carried risk, but no rider beat his score.
White crashed in the earlier final but showed no ill-effects four hours later.
''I haven’t taken a hit like that in a long time,’' he said, according to The Associated Press. ''I went down and got some food and some medicine and came back and just knew that was all I had in me.”
He will try to qualify for the Olympic Team in halfpipe with two finals Friday and another Sunday in Mammoth Mountain.
In slopestyle, White goes into Sochi looking up at gold-medal favorite Mark McMorris of Canada.
McMorris, 20, won the Winter X Games slopestyle last January, where White finished fifth.
They also competed in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in December. White posted the best qualifying score but pulled out before the final with an ankle injury. McMorris won the final with higher scores than White’s qualifying mark in both runs.
McMorris is expected to enter Winter X Games next week, but White has reportedly said he is unlikely to compete in the Aspen, Colo., event.
There are two more automatic U.S. Olympic spots available in the fifth and final Olympic selection event Saturday. Chas Guldemond, Ryan Stassel and Sage Kotsenburg are in the running for those berths.
Jamie Anderson won her second straight women’s event after clinching her Olympic berth earlier Thursday.
One other woman can clinch an Olympic berth in the final selection event Saturday. It would be either Ty Walker, Jordie Karlinski, Jessika Jenson or Karly Shorr.
Walker will clinch if she wins. Karlinski, Jenson or Shorr will clinch if any of them win and Walker is not second.
Here are the updated Olympic selection standings:
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Three automatic Olympic spots
1. Shaun White — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Chas Guldemond -- 1,800
3. Ryan Stassel -- 1,600
3. Sage Kotsenburg -- 1,600
5. Kyle Mack -- 920
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle — Two automatic Olympic spots
1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000 (clinched Olympic berth)
2. Ty Walker — 1,600
3. Jordie Karlinski -- 1,400
3. Jessika Jenson -- 1,400
5. Karly Shorr -- 1,300