By Zach Cavanagh
San Clemente’s Hailey Langland qualified for the United States womens snowboarding big air and slopestyle team and will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The 17-year-old nailed down her spot with a third-place finish in slopestyle at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Saturday at Mammoth Mountain.
Langland earned a score of 61.36 to finish behind fellow Olympic qualifiers Jamie Anderson (84.10) and Julia Marino (74.86).
Anderson had already qualified going into the Mammoth event. Despite missing the finals at the last qualifying event, Langland and Marino had already met the minimum qualification criteria with one top-three result against the rest of the field.
That criteria earned Langland the tiebreaker for the third spot on the U.S. team with podium finishes in two of the five qualifiers.A fourth member will be selected by Team USA before the Olympics.
Langland and her group make up the first of what could be many firsts for the U.S. women.
The team will compete in the first-ever Olympic big air competition as the event makes its debut in February. The trio could also be the first group of U.S. women to sweep the podium in any Winter Olympic event.
If Langland finds the podium, she would be the youngest Olympic snowboard medalist to date.
Langland, called “the up-and-coming face of slopestyle”, won the first X Games big air competition last year in Aspen. She also took bronze in slopestyle at the 2016 X Games in Aspen.
In 2016, Langland competed at the Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She finished eighth in slopestyle and ninth in the halfpipe.