Stassel makes slopestyle finals in Olympic qualifying event

Ryan Stassel decorates his room with snowboarding contest jerseys earned as he has reached the final rounds of competitions in recent years. While all competitors start out with paper bib numbers, he said, finalists making the select group for final-round competition receive jerseys. Erik Hill

Anchorage snowboarder Ryan Stassel advanced to Friday's finals at the U.S. Grand Prix in Breckenridge, Colo., the third of five competitions this season that will determine the U.S. slopestyle team for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Stassel placed seventh in Thursday's qualifying round and was the No. 2 finisher for the United States. Riders battled wind and, for the second run, falling snow, with few of them managing to put together two good runs.

Stassel scored 78.4 points on his first run. He'll be part of a 16-man field in the finals.

The top qualifier was Great Britain's Billy Morgan with 88.20 points. The top American, rookie Nikolas Baden, placed second with 86.0.

Stassel is six-tenths of a point behind fifth place. Trailing him in eighth place with 77.2 points is American snowboarding great Shaun White.

The United States can send as many as three men to the Olympics in slopestyle snowboarding, in which riders do aerial tricks while covering a short course with terrain features like rails and jumps.

No one has clinched a spot yet, and only White or Chas Guldemond can secure a berth this week. If White is the top American finisher Friday, he'll clinch a spot. If Guldemond is the top American finisher and finishes in the top four overall, he'll clinch a spot.

The first qualifying standard for making the U.S. team is a top-four finish at one of the five Grand Prix events. So far, White and Guldemond are the only American men to meet that standard.

Anchorage Daily News