Not long after Alaskans watched the tape-delayed broadcast of the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, Anchorage’s Ryan Stassel was eliminated from the slopestyle snowboard competition.
Stassel, a 21-year-old Olympic rookie, finished sixth in a semifinal round packed with talent. He was less than two points away from earning a spot in the finals.
Stassel was in position to move on after his first run. He turned in a smooth run that put him in fourth place with 83.25 points.
In what was otherwise a fine effort on his second run, Stassel touched his hand to the ground on the landing of his third and final jump and wound up with 81.75 points.
“I rode as well as I could,” Stassel told reporters in Sochi. “I just wish I’d stoked the last jump better.”
Two riders turned in high scores with the second runs to vault past Stassel in the standings — two-time Winter X Games champion Mark McMorris of Canada (89.25) and Seppe Smits of Belgium (84.50), pushing Stassel to sixth place.
The top four finishers advanced to the finals. They joined eight riders who claimed spots during Thursday’s preliminary competition.
Among those who had to claw their way out of the semifinals was American rider Sage Kotsenburg, who went on to capture the gold medal.