ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (REUTERS) - Norway's Staale Sandbech put in a blazing second run to win the opening heat of the men's snowboard slopestyle qualifiers on Thursday, the first day of competition at the Sochi Olympics.
Sandbech's first run scored a modest 45.25 but the Norwegian notched the highest score of the day with his second effort, 94.50, to take one of four places in the final up for grabs.
Finland's Peetu Piroinen, who led after the first round, held on to take second place, with Sebastien Toutant of Canada coming in third.
America's Charles Guldemond missed out on the fourth spot by just 0.75 of a point after Britain's Jamie Nicholls used his final run to sneak past and snatch the berth in the final.
"I definitely had a good time this morning until I just got bumped out on that last run, which was very disappointing, but I've got to stay positive and move on to semi-day," Guldemond told Reuters.
"Obviously I wanted to make that top four cut and it didn't work out, I just need to clean things up a little bit. But nothing ever came easy to me, but when it happened I thought, 'OK, I've seen this before'!"
Australian Scotty James recovered from a heavy fall to make his second run but failed to qualify automatically for the final.
Seen clutching his ribs as he left the slope after the first run, James revealed that his injury was actually in a much more tender place.
"I was really embarrassed, I actually hurt my 'man parts' real bad and I was in a lot of pain, and I didn't really know where to put my hands," he said.
The second heat takes place on Thursday afternoon, with the semi-finals and finals taking place on Saturday at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.