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Alaska snowboarder’s Olympic fate will be decided this week

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: January 25
  • Published January 12

Ryan Stassel gets air during his run in the men’s snowboard slopestyle semifinal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 8, 2014.  (Doug Mills/The New York Times file)

After missing his shot to secure a Winter Olympics spot Friday, Alaska snowboarder Ryan Stassel finds himself in a familiar place.

He has one more chance to make the team when the final qualifying event takes place this week at California's Mammoth Mountain — the exact situation he faced when he made the team in 2014.

Stassel, 25, finished seventh in the finals of the U.S. Grand Prix men's slopestyle competition at Colorado's Snowmass resort on Friday.

Colorado teenager Red Gerard won the event with 87.28 points to become the second American to clinch a spot on the U.S. slopestyle team that will compete next month in South Korea.

Stassel placed second among Americans with 74.77 points. One spot behind him in eighth place was Chandler Hunt, a 19-year-old from Utah who is probably Stassel's main competition for an Olympic berth.

Stassel and Hunt are tied for third place in the U.S. Olympic qualifying standings, behind Gerard and Chris Corning, another Colorado teen who has already secured a trip to PyeongChang.

For Stassel, everything comes down to next week at Mammoth, just like it did in 2014.

In the weeks leading up to the Sochi Olympics, Stassel headed to Mammoth for the final qualifying event and captured his first World Cup victory there. Though that win wasn't enough for him to meet the objective criteria for team qualification, it was enough for U.S. coaches to make him a discretionary pick for the Sochi team.

Stassel, who placed 14th at Sochi, could make a case that he again deserves to be a discretionary pick if he isn't able to duplicate his 2014 victory next week at Mammoth.

He won the slopestyle world championship in 2015 and consistently makes the finals at international slopestyle events.

He's also a threat in big air, which will make its Olympic debut in South Korea. At a big-air test event in PyeongChang in December 2016, Stassel claimed the bronze medal.

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