Two Canadian snowboarders who were critical of Shaun White's decision to pull out of the Olympic slopestyle competition were among eight riders who qualified Thursday for the event's final.
Max Parrot posted the day's best score, a 97.50 in his second run. Sebastien Toutant also made it through to Saturday's final as the Sochi Olympics opened with one of the new events debuting at the games.
White, the American star known for his daring halfpipe tricks, withdrew from the event on Wednesday, saying he wanted to concentrate on winning his third straight gold medal in the halfpipe. He hurt his wrist during a training run on Tuesday but initially indicated he would not miss the event. His decision to withdraw was mocked by Parrot and Toutant on social media.
In a since-deleted tweet, Parrot said he thought White was "scared" to compete and "knows he won't be able to win the slopes."
"I just think me and 'Seb' said something all the other riders would have loved to tell, but maybe are scared to tell," Parrot told TSN on Thursday. "He choked a couple contests this year with not really good reasons. With him here he has the potential to be...Why choke on it for nothing?"
Toutant tweeted, "It's easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can't win." Toutant also deleted his message, but clarified his stance after his runs on Thursday. "I think it's sad for all Americans who trained hard for that spot," he added. "Can't replace him - pretty sad. If you think it's too dangerous, go do something else."
The slopestyle course drew criticism as being potentially dangerous and was modified after Norway's Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone on Monday.
The event, making its Olympic debut, features riders doing tricks over rails and jumps, like skateboarders in a city park only down a snow-covered trail.
Parrot's first run was smooth, but for a dragged hand at the end of one of his jumps, and drew a score of 91.75. The reigning Winter X Games gold medalist was better on his second run, which had few obvious flaws.
Toutant scored a 74.25 on his first run and qualified through his second with a score of 87.25.
Canadian Mark McMorris, a two-time X Games gold medalist, fell on his first run and will have to qualify through the semifinals.
McMorris, who suffered a broken rib at the X Games last month, pulled off a triple-cork on his second run but earned an 89.25, not among the four best riders in his heat.
Americans Sage Kotsenburg, Ryan Stassel and Charles Guldemond will also have to try to qualify through the semifinals, which are Saturday.
Moving directly to the final with Parrot and Toutant were Norway's Staale Sandbech and Gjermund Braaten, Finland's Peetu Piiroinen and Roope Tonteri, Great Britain's Jamie Nicholls and Sweden's Sven Thorgren.