The bumpy part of his Olympic ride is what knocked Butte freestyle skier Brad Wilson off his medals course in the finals Monday of the men’s moguls event at the 2018 Winter Games.
What appeared to be a slight error on his bottom air in his qualifying run on Thursday moved Wilson into a second qualifier on Monday morning just before the finals in the event. He posted the fourth-best mark in the second qualifying and sailed into the finals Phoenix Snow Park near PyeongChang, Korea. The competition was held just after 3 a.m., but not televised until about 7 a.m. by NBC.
The maneuvering of the turns in the moguls counts for 60 percent of the points while the speed and aerials are 20 percent each in the judging. Wilson wound up in 18th place. The top 12 from final advanced to the second final, then the six top qualifiers went on to compete in the Super Finals, which determined the medal winners.
Known for his speed, usually among the top three fastest skiers in men’s moguls in the world, the Butte 25-year-old sped into his first jump, which he completed flawlessly and then he blasted into the main moguls course leading to the bottom jump.
He wandered a tad out of his chute in the downhill field and battled the moguls to keep his skis together. The minor loss of style apparently cost him several judging points. Wilson did pull his routine back together and hit the bottom ramp with another impressive jump that should have scored well for him.
The winner was Canadian standout Mikael Kingsbury, the World Cup leader, while the silver medal went to Matt Graham of Australia and the bronze to Daichi Hara of Japan.
Kingsbury scored 86.63 points, Graham 82.57 and Hara 82.19. Wilson tallied 62.74.
Casey Andringa was the top United States placer with fifth place, also scoring well in speed and aerials. Troy Murphy placed 17th, one point ahead of Wilson. Andringa, like Wilson, had to go through Monday’s second qualifier, but Murphy earned his spot in the 20-man finals in Thursday’s trials. Emerson Smith, the fourth American entry, did not qualify for the finals and was put in 23rd place.
The appearance marked Wilson’s second in the Winter Olympics. He was 20th in thre 2014 Winter Games at Sochi, Russia, suffering a fall on the bottom end of the run. His older brother, Bryon, also from Butte, was the 2010 Bronze Medalist in moguls at Vancouver, British Columbia.
They both graduated from high school in Butte — Bryon in 2006 from Butte High and Brad in 2011 from Butte Central — and moved to Park City, Utah, to receive Olympic coaching and training at Team USA’s Deer Valley facility.
Bryon Wilson is still active also, but was left off this year’s Olympic team, which was picked only three weeks after he returned to internaitonal competition from ACL surgery recovery.
Their parents Bryon and Jeanette (Harrington) Wilson currently reside in Park City, having moved there to care for their then teen-aged sons. Bryon Wilson Sr. recently retired from UPS and helps coach skiing in the Team USA camp.
Brad Wilson is the world’s No. 7-ranked skier on the World Cup circuit.