Snowboard champion Shaun White didn't know what to expect in the first of four Olympic qualifying events Thursday at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo.
"I'm going to show up and am just going to wing it," he said last month. "I want to see what everyone else is doing and build my runs accordingly. That one is a big question mark."
White, 27, got some answers Thursday after a strong two-run performance to lead all qualifiers into Saturday's final for the halfpipe competition.
The two-time reigning halfpipe champion also will compete Friday in the snowboard slopestyle runs as White tries to qualify for two events at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Slopestyle is one of a handful of events making its Olympic debut February in southern Russia. Slopestyle riders follow a trail downhill that has a series of obstacles and jumps in which they perform tricks.
Last year, White finished a disappointing fifth in the event at the X-Games when he didn't master triple flips.
"This will be the first time I get to see all my competition in one place," he said of the new discipline. "It will be a coming out for me in the slopestyle. Show what I have been working on. I'm definitely trying to put down some triples in the slopestyle course because that eluded me last season."
The snowboard Olympic trials will conclude next month with two California events. The first competition will be held Jan. 8-12 at White's home base of Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski Resort. The final qualifier is scheduled Jan. 14-19 at Mammoth Mountain.
The events are part of the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix series. But the kickoff competition this week is tied to X-Games' rival Dew Tour.
"I was really surprised they did that," White said of combining a Dew event with an Olympic qualifier. "I don't know if it is good or bad."
Then White, also a skateboard champion, poked fun at the sponsor.
"I assume the only difference is there will be a lot of green everywhere," he said, referring to the color of Mountain Dew's cans. "Yeah, a lot of green. On the banners. Right?"