COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. -- Shaun White qualified for slopestyle finals at the U.S. Grand Prix on Thursday, guaranteeing himself the top-30 finish he needed to be eligible for the Sochi Olympics.
Less than a week after hurting his left ankle during a halfpipe contest, White tried a conservative first run, then added an extra revolution to his last jump on his second trip down the mountain. He scored 85.66 points to finish third in his heat and earn a place in the 16-man final Sunday.
"It's kind of strange doing an event aiming for the top 30 because I always try to win the thing," White said. "I'm really glad I got the pressure off me on the first run. I feel good. I'm happy I got the score and made it to the finals."
White skipped the halfpipe contest this week to be sure he was healthy enough for slopestyle -- the event where he still needed the top-30 finish in this World Cup contest, which is a minimum international requirement for any potential Olympian. White still needs to qualify for one of the three spots on the U.S. team. Copper Mountain is the second of five selection events.
The two-time Olympic champion in halfpipe hadn't seen the course in Copper Mountain until Thursday and said he "kind of slammed things together" for his run.
But he said his ankle was feeling well and he would probably go bigger in the finals Sunday.
American Sage Kotsenburg's 94.0 marked the best score of the 99 riders in qualifying. Canada's Mark McMorris, who romped to a victory last week at the Dew Tour event that White withdrew from, did not compete this week.