Shaun White will have the opportunity to defend his half-pipe snowboarding Olympic title, and pursue his fourth gold medal next month in Beijing. White qualified for the finals in the World Cup event in Laax, Switzerland on Thursday. His fifth-place finish advances him into the 12-man final on Saturday.
His decision to compete in the last event before the U.S. team is selected next week all but secured White’s spot on the roster.
The result ascended White to fourth place on the World Snowboard points list ahead of American teammate Chase Blackwell, who finished fifth, knocking him out of the finals competition.
This means White, who came into the event as the fourth-ranked American, cannot fall further down in the rankings, while Blackwell, who was fifth, cannot move up. The U.S. has four spots on the men’s half-pipe team and is expected to use the world rankings to fill out their final roster spots.
Saturday’s final may be an Olympic preview as to what to expect in Beijing. White along with Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Australia’s Scotty James make up the top three snowboarders from the last Olympics in PyeongChang 2018.
The U.S. team is expected to be chosen next week and finalized no later than January 21.