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This weekend on the Road to the Olympics: Shaun White headlines halfpipe qualifier

This weekend on the Road to the Olympics: Shaun White headlines halfpipe qualifier
Posted at 2:19 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 15:48:52-05

Shaun White and David Wise are back in the halfpipe for Olympic qualifying events, Mikaela Shiffrin attempts to maintain her lead as Alpine skiing's overall World Cup leader, and Erin Jackson (speed skating) and Kaillie Humphries (bobsled) look to continue their hot starts this season. Here's what's happening this weekend (December 10-12) on the road to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Snowboard Halfpipe

The first of three 2021-22 FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cups takes place at Copper Mountain in Frisco, Colorado, simultaneously kicking off the season’s U.S. Grand Prix tour. It’s also the second of four U.S. Olympic selection events for snowboard halfpipe in the leadup to February's Olympics.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White headlines the men’s field. The 35-year-old American in search of a fifth Games berth last competed in March, placing fourth at the U.S. Grand Prix in Aspen. That appearance ended a three-year hiatus dating back to his dramatic victory at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Up to two men and two women can qualify for the U.S. halfpipe team by being in the top six of the world rankings, but podium finishes at selection events provide a second pathway for athletes to make the team (which will have a maximum of four men and four women).

Perhaps the true season-opener headliners, though, are the Japanese powerhouse contingent of reigning world and X Games champion Yuto Totsuka, two-time Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano, 2020 Youth Olympic gold medalist Ruka Hirano (no relation to Ayumu) and 2018 Olympian Raibu Katayama. In his first major contest since the last Winter Olympics, Ayumu Hirano posted the highest score in qualifying, while his Japanese teammates made up the rest of the top four. White finished qualifying in ninth but advanced to the final along with U.S. teammates Chase Josey and Taylor Gold.

One big question: will we see a triple cork? Totsuka, Ruka Hirano and Ayumu Hirano all landed the trick in preseason camps, and White is well aware it's something he'll likely need to overcome and master before February if he wants a fourth gold.

The women’s final is led by two-time world champion Cai Xuetong of China and 2020 X Games champion Queralt Castellet of Spain. U.S. stars Chloe Kim and Maddie Mastro did not enter this week's event.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper (Snowboarding)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Halfpipe Finals 2:00 p.m., NBCSN
    2:00 p.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Halfpipe Finals 1:00 p.m. ET, NBC*

*Delayed broadcast

Freeski Halfpipe

The first of three 2021-22 FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Cups takes place at Copper Mountain in Frisco, Colorado, simultaneously kicking off the season’s U.S. Grand Prix tour. It’s also the second of six U.S. Olympic selection events for ski halfpipe in the leadup to February's Olympics. Up to two men and two women can qualify for the U.S. halfpipe team by being in the top six of the world rankings, but podium finishes at selection events provide a second pathway for athletes to make the team (which will have a maximum of four men and four women).

New Zealand's Nico Porteous, the current Olympic favorite, had the highest score in qualifying for the men, while two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist David Wise was one of five Americans to advance to Friday's 10-skier final. Aaron Blunck, who posted the top score in his heat, will join teammate Wise there along with 2018 Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira, Lyman Currier and Birk Irving.

The women's field is headlined by teenagers Kelly Sildaru of Estonia and Eileen Gu of China, who had the top two scores in qualifying. American Brita Sigourney, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist, qualified third and will be joined in the final by 17-year-old compatriot Hanna Faulhaber.

U.S. Grand Prix at Copper (Freeskiing)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Halfpipe Finals 2:30 p.m. ET, Peacock
    9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN*
Sat 12/11 Halfpipe Finals 5:00 p.m. ET, NBC*

*Delayed broadcast

Alpine Skiing

The Alpine Skiing World Cup returns to European snow for back-to-back days of women’s super-G in Switzerland. Mikaela Shiffrin enters the season’s sixth destination as the overall World Cup leader, but Italian speed specialist and 2018 Olympic downhill gold medalist Sofia Goggia is quickly closing the gap. Goggia swept all three races (two downhill and one super-G) last weekend in Canada and will look to extend her winning streak in the Swiss Alps.

American Breezy Johnson also has momentum on her side, placing second in both downhill events last weekend. She has never made the podium in any discipline other than downhill but could change that this weekend. Super-G includes similar speeds to downhill but requires a bit more technical skill in the turns.

Swiss star Lara Gut-Behrami will have her sights set on a podium-filled weekend in front of her home fans.

St. Moritz World Cup (Women)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Women's Super-G 1 4:30 a.m., Olympic Channel
    4:30 a.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Women's Super-G 2 4:30 a.m., Olympic Channel
    4:30 a.m., Peacock

Meanwhile, 250 miles to the southwest, the world’s elite male ski racers will square off in Val d’Isere, France, in giant slalom and slalom.

24-year-old Swiss phenom Marco Odermatt leads the overall standings and has a chance to show off his technical ability in the season’s first slalom race, having won the first GS event of the season.

2021 overall champion Alexis Pinturault has gotten his title defense off to a slow start and will be motivated to capture his first podiums of the season on home snow. American skiers are not expected to factor into the podium discussion.

Val d’Isere World Cup (Men)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Men's Giant Slalom Run 1 3:30 a.m., Peacock
  Men's Giant Slalom Run 2 7:00 a.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Men's Slalom Run 1 3:30 a.m., Peacock
  Men's Slalom Run 2 7:00 a.m., Peacock

Speed Skating

For its final destination ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the ISU Speed Skating World Cup heads to Alberta. Erin Jackson has been the most dominant sprinter – male or female – in the world since the season began last month, winning four of the six 500m events, including at least one win at all three World Cup stops. Should she continue that streak, she’d enter the Winter Olympics as the prohibitive favorite in the 500m event.

Fellow American Brittany Bowe will attempt to return to the top step of the podium in the 1000m distance after being relegated to third last weekend in Salt Lake City. Prior to that, Bowe had won the first two World Cup stops outright.

On the men’s side, Joey Mantia enters off a thrilling weekend in Utah, notching an individual win in the 1500m and also leading the United States to first in the team pursuit. Interestingly, the Floridian has yet to log a podium finish in the mass start, an event in which he is a three-time world champion.

Calgary World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Day 1 2:30 p.m., Peacock
Sat 12/11 Day 2 2:30 p.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Day 3 2:30 p.m., Peacock

Bobsled & Skeleton

The 2021-22 IBSF World Cup reaches its official halfway point this weekend in Winterberg, Germany, at its fourth stop. Male athletes will have the opportunity to compete in two four-man races instead of one two-man and one four-man, as the January stop in Sigulda, Latvia, can only host the two-man event.

The Netherlands’ Kimberley Bos (women’s skeleton) and Germany’s Christopher Grotheer (men’s skeleton), Laura Nolte (two-woman bobsled) and Francesco Friedrich (two-man and four-man bobsled) lead the World Cup standings through the first three stops.

American Elana Meyers Taylor leads the women’s monobob rankings. But last weekend in Altenberg, it was fellow U.S. star Kaillie Humphries who swept the women’s bobsled races — two days after officially becoming an American citizen at a ceremony in San Diego, California.

Winterberg World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Men's Skeleton 4:00 a.m., Olympics.com
    6:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*
  Women's Skeleton 8:30 a.m., Olympics.com
    7:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*
Sat 12/11 Four-Man Bobsled 4:00 a.m., Olympics.com
    6:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*
  Women's Monobob 8:30 a.m., Olympics.com
    7:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*
Sun 12/12 Two-Woman Bobsled 3:00 a.m., Olympics.com
    6:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*
  Four-Man Bobsled 7:30 a.m., Olympics.com
    7:00 p.m., Olympic Channel*

*Delayed broadcast

Luge

The 2021-22 Luge World Cup heads to Altenberg, Germany, this weekend for its first stop in Central Europe after an event in China and two in Russia. The 175 athletes expected to race hail from 27 countries.

Brothers Andris and Juris Sic lead the doubles contest through the first three stops, while Germany’s Julia Taubitz and Johannes Ludwig lead the women’s and men’s rankings, respectively. The Latvian brothers have made the podium at the last nine straight World Cups — that includes four wins, two second-place and three third-place finishes.

At the last World Cup stop in Sochi, American Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer finished 20th in singles and 13th in doubles as he makes his comeback from breaking his foot in September.

Altenberg World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Doubles 3:30 a.m., Olympics.com
  Women 6:10 a.m., Olympics.com
Sun 12/12 Men 3:15 a.m., Olympics.com
  Team Relay 7:00 a.m., Olympics.com

Snowboard Cross & Alpine Snowboarding

The second of eight World Cup events for snowboard cross takes place at Silvretta Montafon ski area in Vorarlberg, Austria, and it’s also the first of three stops on the mixed team circuit. Swiss-born Austrian Alessandro Haemmerle and Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic won the individual-event season openers at Secret Garden, the 2022 Olympic venue. American Nick Baumgartner took third there in the men’s big final.

Samkova, last season’s crystal globe winner, led women's qualifying on Thursday by nearly two seconds, the only rider to dip under the one-minute mark. Reigning world champion Charlotte Bankes of Great Britain and reigning Olympic gold medalist Michela Moioli of Italy will also be in the field.

On the men’s side, Haemmerle’s compatriot Lukas Pachner posted the fastest qualifying time. Haemmerle himself qualified into the finals as well, while four Americans (Baumgartner, 2019 world champion Mick Dierdorff, Michael Perle and Mike Lacroix) also made it into the 32-rider field.

Montafon World Cup (Snowboard Cross)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Snowboard Cross Finals 7:00 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sat 12/11 Team Snowboard Cross 5:00 a.m. ET, Peacock

The first of 10 World Cup stops for Alpine snowboarding takes place at Bannoye ski resort near Magnitogorsk, Russia, with both parallel giant slalom (PGS) and parallel slalom (PSL) events in action.

In the women's field, Germany’s Ramona Theresia Hofmeister is an early season favorite to defend her overall title but could be pushed by 18-year-old Russian Sophia Nadyrshina this year. Czech Ester Ledecka, winner of the 2018 Olympic PGS gold, is a contender any time she competes but will be splitting her time between snowboarding and Alpine skiing this season.

Russian Dmitri Loginov is already a three-time world champion at 21 years old and will be among the favorites on the men's side this year.

Bannoye World Cup (Alpine Snowboarding)
Day Event Time
Sat 12/11 Parallel Giant Slalom Final 3:00 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sun 12/12 Parallel Slalom Finals 2:30 a.m. ET, Peacock

Freestyle Skiing

The second of eight World Cup stops for moguls takes place at Idre Fjall ski resort in Idre, Sweden. Last week's season opener saw an expected win from reigning Olympic and world champion Mikael Kingsbury of Canada and a rather surprising victory from American Olivia Giaccio.

Idre Fjall World Cup (Moguls)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Moguls 7:00 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sun 12/12 Dual Moguls 7:00 a.m. ET, Peacock

The 2021-22 FIS Aerials World Cup circuit stays at Ruka ski resort in Kuusamo, Finland, for a second week of competition. Russian Maxim Burov, the two-time reigning world champion, won both men's events in the opener, and China did the same on the women’s side with victories from Kong Fanyu and Xu Megntao.

Ruka World Cup (Aerials)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Aerials 9:30 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sat 12/11 Women's Aerials 3:40 a.m. ET, Peacock
  Men's Aerials 6:15 a.m. ET, Peacock
  Team Aerials 9:30 a.m. ET, Peacock

The second of nine ski cross World Cup stops takes place at French Alps ski resort Val Thorens. The opener, held two weeks ago at this winter’s Olympic venue Secret Garden, saw 2018 Olympic bronze medalist Russian Sergey Ridzik and two-time world champion Sandra Naeslund of Sweden claim victories. Missing from that contest was 2014 Olympic gold medalist and 2019 world champion Marielle Thompson of Canada, who makes her season debut with four wins at the venue. For the men, Canada has had the most success in races past.

Val Thorens World Cup (Ski Cross)
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Ski Cross 3:45 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sat 12/11 Ski Cross 5:30 a.m. ET, Peacock

Cross-Country Skiing

The second of at least 14 cross-country skiing World Cups this season takes place at Davos Klosters ski resort in Davos, Switzerland, with four total events all in freestyle technique at high altitude: men’s and women’s individual sprints, a men’s 15km and a women’s 10km. American Rosie Brennan, third in the 10km free at last weekend’s Lillehammer World Cup, captured both event wins at last season’s Davos stop. Fellow American Jessie Diggins is also set to compete in both of the women's events, fresh off a runner-up finish in Lillehammer’s sprint free. Norwegian Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo and Russian Alexander Bolshunov, top two in overall standing through six events, are expected to continue their hot starts to the season in the men’s events.

Davos World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Individual Sprints 8:15 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sun 12/12 Men's 15km 5:40 a.m. ET, Peacock
  Women's 10km 8:00 a.m. ET, Peacock

Biathlon

The second stop and third stage of the IBU Biathlon World Cup takes place at the Biathlon Center in Hochfilzen, Austria, and features six events with men’s and women’s sprints (10km/7.5km), pursuits (12.5km/10km) and relays (4x7.5km/4x6km). Austrian Lisa Theresa Hauser, winner of the women's 7.5km sprint at last weekend’s Ostersund World Cup, and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen of Norway, who took first in Ostersund’s men's 12.5km pursuit, have the yellow bibs. Hauser’s compatriot Tiril Eckhoff, reigning world champion in both events, is still searching for success this season – she was the sprint and pursuit events’ victor at last season’s Hochfilzen World Cup.

Hochfilzen World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Men's 10km Sprint 5:25 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel
    5:25 a.m. ET, Peacock
  Women's 7.5km Sprint 8:15 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel
    8:15 a.m. ET, Peacock
Sat 12/11 Men's 12.5km Pursuit 6:15 a.m. ET, Peacock
    9:00 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel*
  Women’s 4x6km Relay 8:15 a.m. ET, Peacock
    10:00 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel*
Sun 12/12 Men’s 4x7.5km Relay 5:45 a.m. ET, Peacock
    9:00 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel*
  Women’s 10km Pursuit 8:30 a.m. ET, Peacock
    10:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel*

*Delayed broadcast

Ski Jumping

The 2021-22 FIS Ski Jumping World Cup takes over the large hill at Vogtland Arena in Klingenthal, Germany. It’s a chance for current yellow bib wearer Karl Geiger to extend his overall lead on home soil.

Klingenthal World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Fri 12/10 Women 9:00 a.m., Peacock
  Men Qualifying 1:15 p.m., Peacock
Sat 12/11 Women 4:30 a.m., Peacock
  Men 10:00 a.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Men 10:00 a.m., Peacock

Nordic Combined

Otepaa World Cup
Day Event Time (ET), Platform
Sat 12/11 Women's Ski Jump 5:00 a.m., Peacock
  Men's 10km 9:30 a.m., Peacock
  Women's 5km 10:30 a.m., Peacock
Sun 12/12 Women's Ski Jump 6:30 a.m., Peacock
  Men's Ski Jump 7:45 a.m., Peacock
  Men's 10km 9:30 a.m., Peacock
  Women's 5km 10:30 a.m., Peacock