Men's big air made its Olympic debut Wednesday in Pyeongchang, and the qualifying round got so intense that one of the top gold medal favorites is already eliminated.
The biggest name missing from the final will be Marcus Kleveland. The 18-year-old from Norway fell on his second run and was unable to get into the final with the previous trick he had landed in his earlier run. Kleveland is known for his ability to land quad corks — an off-axis rotation that includes four flips — and was considered one of the strongest contenders for gold in Pyeongchang.
Triple corks were in full effect during the qualifying round, as that proved to be the price of admission into the final for many riders.
In the first heat, Max Parrot stomped a pair of frontside triple cork 1440s to earn the top score. All three Americans in the heat — Kyle Mack, Chris Corning and slopestyle gold medalist Red Gerard — landed backside triple cork 1440s to book their spots in the final. Of the American trio, Mack — who was using a very stylish Japan grab on his triple cork — posted the highest score.
Sweden's Niklas Mattsson, who landed a backside 1620, and Switzerland's Michael Schaerer also advanced out of the first qualifying heat.
The action got pretty heavy in the second heat when a number of riders started going for 1620s.
New Zealand's Carlos Garcia Knight, Switzerland's Jonas Boesiger, Norway's Torgeir Bergrem and the Canadian duo of Mark McMorris and Sebastien Toutant all had to land variations of 1620s in order to safely advance out of the second heat.
Great Britain's Billy Morgan also managed to sneak into the final after finishing sixth in the heat.