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January 23, 2014

Sports in a minute

Ferguson deserves a spot on U.S. Olympic team

I’m no expert when it comes to freestyle skiing, but it seems to me Amesbury native Dylan Ferguson was unfairly left off the U.S. Olympic team.

Ferguson learned Tuesday that despite being the top-ranked American in the World Cup standings for the last three years, he was omitted from the U.S. roster in favor of World Cup Rookie of the Year Mac Bohonnon. Taking into account the five Olympic qualifiers, Ferguson was ranked four spots ahead of Bohonnon in the rankings — 10th compared to 14th.

Ferguson fulfilled the criteria laid out by the International Ski Federation to qualify for a spot on the team, but the Olympic Committee was faced with the task of narrowing all of the U.S. qualifiers into the maximum team size of 26 skiers.

In making its cuts, the Olympic Committee determined that the pursuit of the all-important medal count dictated whether athletes were selected for the team. Athletes in the sport of men’s aerial skiing were determined not to have the same likelihood of bringing home medals as other sports such as slopestyle or halfpipe. Both of those sports have four Americans on the team, as compared to the one on the men’s aerials team.

The criteria that led to Bohonnon’s selection over Ferguson is each athlete’s number of podium finishes in the five qualifiers. Bohonnon had one second-place finish, and he was the only American to earn a spot on the podium. Ferguson placed fifth at best.

On one hand, a case can be made for Bohonnon. If he placed on the podium against an international field in one of the five qualifiers, he could certainly repeat the feat in Sochi, Russia. But Ferguson was more consistent over the five qualifiers, and he certainly has enough difficulty in his program to jump to the top three spots, as is evidenced by his No. 4 ranking in the world in 2013.

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