By Bruce Sayler
Olympic mogulist Brad Wilson of Butte said he figures it was a less-than-perfect bottom leap that cost him a berth in the freestyle skiing men’s mogulist finals.
He will get another chance to qualify on Monday.
The 25-year-old second-time Olympian competed Thursday night, the opening day of events in the 2018 Winter Games being held at PyeongChang, South Korea. He placed 15th out of 30 entrants in a qualifying round. Placing in the top 10 gained entrants spots in Monday’s finals. Ten more berths will be awarded in another qualifying run that is set to begin at 3:30 a.m. (MST) at the Phoenix Ski Park outside of PyeongChang.
“Yeah, I felt i had a good run,” Wilson said in a series of text messages with buttesports.com after his Thursday qualifier try. “I did have a small bobble on the bottom air. So, I have to clean that up and make it perfect for Monday. I’m looking forward to it, going to have a blast.”
Favorite and World Cup leader Mikael Kingsbury of Canada led the qualifying and advances directly to the finals, which will also be held Monday after the last qualifying. Troy Murphy of the United States was fourth and was the only Team USA skier to advance straight to the finals. Wilson and teammate Casey Andringa tied for 14th in points, but Andringa gained the rank on criteria.
Wilson was 20th at the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, having suffered a fall during his medals run.
Wilson’s run Thursday was fast, he looked to have good speed coming down the slope and his negotiation of the 60 moguls on the course was described as “perfect” by NBC television commentators. Commentators reported Wilson’s time to be second only to Kingsbury’s. So it was judging on his tricks or acrobatics (leaps) that determined the other portion of his points.
He looked flawless off the top ramp and glided right into the middle of the moguls field, but left the bottom ramp a little tilted. Wilson had to come out of his flip and righted his position in time to gain balance and form for the final few yards down the snowfield at the end of the ru.
It was the legs tipping some over his head that Wilson thought led to the judges scoring him down.
The 2011 Butte Central grad and younger brother of 2010 men’s moguls Bronze Medalist Bryon Wilson expressed deep appreciation the hometown support shown him.
He was told Montana Tech lit up its arch for him and that his run was being viewed on cell phones at Anaconda’s Memorial Gym where the Copperheads were playing basketball games against the Maroons, for whom Wilson played varsity tennis.
Jake Kelly, a former neighbor growing up in the same Butte Wall Street neighborhood the same time as the Wilson brothers, was on the public address system at the games in Anaconda and had the the qualifying run showing on his phone.
“Cool to hear. Huge,” Wilson texted. “I love Butte so much.
After Monday’s qualifying, 20 skiers will remain from the original pool to compete in the finals. The TV commentators said they liked his chances to reach the 20-man field.A
Wilson said the field will then be cut to 12, and then six before medalists are determined.
He was assured his old hometown will be watching and hollering for him some more.