Olympic champions Shaun White & Chloe Kim advance to Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup final in Laax
The reigning Olympic men's and women's halfpipe champions will now compete in the Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup finals on Saturday (15 January) in Laax, Switzerland.
White, a three-time Olympic champion in the men's halfpipe, finished fifth in qualifying with a score of 81.80. PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist Scotty James finished first with a top score of 95.60; double Olympic silver medallist Hirano Ayumu was second with a score of 95.40.
The top 12 finishers progress to the men's final on Saturday (15 January).
White's last-minute decision to compete in the World Cup competition in Switzerland is a final attempt by the American to show selectors he should be chosen to represent Team USA at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in February. The reigning halfpipe Olympic champion withdrew mid competition from the U.S. Grand Prix in Mammoth mountain last weekend. The event was the final Olympic qualifier for Team USA riders, and although White qualified third for the finals it's understood he pulled out due to lingering Covid-19 side effects, such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
Kim is favoured to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic halfpipe champion when the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games open next month (4 February), and recorded the two best runs in qualifying in Laax (scoring 91.20 and 93.80 points) to advance to Saturday's final in pole position.
Among the top eight finishers to advance to the final were PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Liu Jiayu and current halfpipe World Cup leader Cai Xuetong; the latter finished second in qualifying with a score of 86.20.
Kim, 21, is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the halfpipe, and is taking part in her first World Cup event since March 2021.
In the slopestyle qualification heats, Brock Crouch and Takeru Otsuka finished top of their respective heats (with scores of 95.00 and 93.40 respectively) to lead the top 12 qualifiers from each heat into Friday's semi-finals.