The snowboarders are Team USA’s saving grace at the Winter Olympics and it’s not just because they’re some of the biggest stars at the Games. With four gold medals — Chloe Kim and Shaun White in halfpipe and Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson in slopestyle — the United States has been about as dominant in snowboarding as any team has been in any sport in PyeongChang.
The much-anticipated big air debut has been good to Team USA with six athletes moving on to their respective finals. Three American women — Anderson, Julia Marino and Jessika Jenson — previously qualified for the ladies big air final, set for Thursday. The men followed suit on Wednesday in South Korea, nabbing three of the 12 spots in the men’s final, which will take place Friday.
Americans Kyle Mack and Chris Corning finished third and fourth respectively in Heat 1, with Gerard sneaking in with the sixth and final qualifying spot.
It’s hardly hyperbole to say that the Team USA snowboarders have kept the United States from falling into medal obscurity, and they’re not done yet. If Team USA manages to pull off two more golds in big air this week, snowboard cross will be the only snowboarding event in PyeongChang in which the gold went to a country other than the United States.
Their success on the slopes has been a welcome reprieve from the disappointment of an otherwise lackluster and uncharacteristic outing for the Americans. With just five gold medals thus far, and 12 overall, the Americans are well below their expected total at this point. For comparison’s sake, the United States brought home 29 medals including 9 golds from Sochi in 2014 — and it racked up 37 medals and 9 golds in Vancouver in 2010.
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