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Partly cloudy skies and calm winds at Phoenix Park in South Korea foreshadowed a great day of men’s halfpipe skiing. During his first run in finals on Thursday, Alex Ferrera, of Aspen, Colo., smoothly landed every trick in his first run, scoring a 92.60 and getting into first position. Aaron Blunck, of Crested Butte, Colo., also put down a solid run but lacked the smooth special sauce judges look for, earning an 84.80.
In a surprise twist for Team USA, a sixteen-year-old from New Zealand who qualified in 11th, Nico Porteous, executed a nearly-flawless second run, stomping five doubles for a score of 94.80.
“Even in my dreams, I couldn’t have done a better run,” Porteous told journalists after the competition. “That was insane! The first run was my first time doing four doubles in a run, and my second run was the first time I’ve ever done five doubles in a run. [I thought] ‘you’re at the Olympics…why not just harness the adrenaline and go for it?’”
Ferreira would land his run a second time, turning up the amplitude even more and taking back first place from Porteous with a rock-solid 96.00. David Wise lost his ski again, to the point Jonny Moseley posted in an Instagram story encouraging him to tighten his DIN setting.
Moseley’s message must have gotten through, and Wise linked up four doubles in his third run and, most importantly, kept his skis on. He claimed the top spot with a score of 97.20.
During Yater-Wallace’s third run, he slammed on the deck hard enough to skip press interviews and was out of the running. Ferreira followed by performing yet another clean run but didn’t score higher than his second run score, remaining in second place. Blunck stayed on his feet for his entire final run, but again failed to keep everything clean. His first run score of 84.80 landed him in 7 place overall.
“I worked really hard to be here,” said silver-medalist Ferreira in an interview. “Victory lies within preparation. I was prepared for this day. I think I worked really, extremely hard, and I’m happy to be here.”
“I really feel like freesking won today,” said a celebratory Wise, holding his son’s hand in a post-ceremony interview. “We got to put on the show that everyone missed out on in Sochi. We didn’t have good conditions in Sochi and we didn’t get to ski the way we wanted to. I still won the gold medal [in Sochi], but it’s even better to be able to represent the sport when the competition is so epic.”