Gus Kenworthy snags Olympic slopestyle spot
Ryan Summerlin January 22, 2014
If you went to any of the events at the U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix at Park City Mountain Resort over the weekend, chances were you saw Gus Kenworthy compete.
And, chances are you saw him make his way to the podium after the event concluded.
Kenworthy, who competes in both slopestyle and halfpipe skiing, had a great weekend, collecting a silver and a bronze medal in slopestyle and a bronze medal in halfpipe.
After clinching a spot on the U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team on Saturday, he discussed whether he’s ever considered giving up one of the two sports to focus on being the best in just one.
"Doing the two events is hard, and my biggest fear was always that I was going to spread myself too thin and not make either team that I’d be one of the best in both, but not the best in either," he admitted. "But, at the end of the day, I just didn’t want to give one up. I enjoy both and I like competing in both. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes, but it also calms me down in other ways, having two things to focus on."
Coming into the weekend, he hadn’t qualified for either Olympic team. But, by the time the weekend was over, he had clinched a slopestyle spot and put himself in a great position for a spot on the halfpipe team, too.
Needing two podiums to meet the minimum qualification requirements, Kenworthy said he actually enjoyed having what he needed to do spelled out so clearly for him.
"Knowing exactly what I had to do almost took a little bit of pressure off," he said. "It wasn’t as much of a guessing game. It just came down to the fact I had to land my run. I’m so happy I was able to put it down."
And, with the fantastic weather in Park City over the weekend, competing was a blast.
"It was an incredible day," Kenworthy said Saturday. "The weather was great, the course was riding super well and two of my best friends in the world are on the podium with me and they both skied so well."
Everyone in the slopestyle portion of the competition was competing at a high level, something Kenworthy said makes finishing on the podium even sweeter.
"It feels good," he said. "It doesn’t feel as good if you win and the field isn’t quite as stacked or there’s not as much competition. Today was a really heated event a lot of good runs, people were putting down multiple runs that had good scores."
Though he’s still awaiting word on whether he’ll be joining the halfpipe team in Sochi, Kenworthy says he’s stoked to have qualified for the slopestyle squad.
"I tried not to think about it too much [beforehand]," he said. "I didn’t want to jinx myself and get over-psyched out. It feels incredible; it’s an honor. The Olympics has just been a lifelong dream even before it’s been involved in our sport. Ever since it has been, I’ve wanted to go."
And, he added, he can’t wait to show what Team USA is all about.
"The U.S. team is crazy," he said. "I honestly think qualifying for the Olympics for the U.S. is tougher than it’s going to be to win a medal when you get to Russia. There are so many guys here, when we get there, the field’s not as deep. So many of the best guys are from the States and we can only send four [to Sochi]. But, I’m really excited to clinch a spot and I guess we’ll see who the fourth spot is."