The U.S. Freeskiing team announced yesterday who would fill the remaining halfpipe and slopestyle spots on the Olympic team. Using their discretionary picks, the coaches chose Joss Christensen, Torin Yater-Wallace, Maggie Voisin, Annalisa Drew, and Julia Krass to go to Sochi. But one name was omitted from the list--Tom Wallisch.
Wallisch has been one of the most visible spokespeople for U.S. Freeskiing, and he was an early favorite to make the Olympic team. But yesterday’s news meant that Wallisch’s “Road to Sochi” had come to a sudden end. Wallisch congratulated his teammates on Twitter and tweeted “Just wasn’t the year for me. Weather, judging, events, and injuries.” There has been speculation that Wallisch has been skiing with a nagging knee injury, forcing him to change his runs so that it would allow for more switch landings. Landing switch has a lesser impact on the front of the knee.
The United States is permitted to bring four athletes per event. Considering that many of the top slopestyle skiers are American, the Olympic qualifiers have become just as competitive, if not moreso, than the Olympic games will be. Wallisch, McRae Williams, and Alex Schlopy all have the athletic capacity to take the top spot on any given day. Winter X gold medals sit on all of their mantles, yet none of them will be going to Sochi to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Christensen, out of Park City, Utah, rounds out the U.S. Freeskiing Team in slopestyle, joining Nick Goepper, Bobby Brown, and Gus Kenworthy. Christensen is a deserving skier, having taken the win at the Grand Prix event last Saturday at Park City, Utah. He's also quite good in the style department.
A couple of youngsters also punched their tickets to Russia. Sixteen-year-old Julia Krass and 15-year-old Maggie Voison join Keri Herman and Devin Logan on the women's slopestyle team. One of those four is guaranteed a podium spot. Joining those women on Team U-S-A, on the halfpipe squad, will be Annalisa Drew, by discretionary pick. Maddie Bowman, Angeli VanLaanen, and Brita Sigourney round out the strong women's team for America.
In men's halfpipe, Simon Dumont failed to make the U.S. team, thus ending his competitive career. Dumont skied his final pipe competition with a blown ACL on Saturday in one of the gutsiest performances in halfpipe skiing history. Word is Dumont intends to have his knee surgically repaired, plan his annual East Coast event, The Dumont Cup, and focus his energies on filming.
Lastly, Aspen native Torin Yater-Wallace was given the discretionary pick in halfpipe. There is little doubt that Yater-Wallace shows up when the lights shine bright and is one of America's best chances for gold. The Winter X Games at Aspen this weekend will provide a better idea of where T.Y.W. is in his recovery from two broken ribs and a collapsed lung, injuries he sustained during a vicious crash during the Winter Dew Tour at Breckenridge, Colorado, in December. U.S. Freeskiing's pipe team is as solid as they come. Two-time Winter X Gold Medalist David Wise, 17-year-old Aaron Blunck, and the understated but insanely good Lyman Currier will also represent the red, white, and blue in Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Team