ASPEN, Colo. -- The pressure was tangible at the Jeep Ski Slopestyle Men's Elimination on Friday at X Games Aspen 2013, where 16 of the world's best were vying for eight positions in Sunday's finals.
After a crash on his first run, British skier James Woods came back with a strong second run to earn the highest score in the elimination, a 92.66.
"That crash on my first run was my fault," Woods said after being asked about any equipment failure. "I knew in the back of my head I could fix that and throw down a good run."
Norway's Andreas Håtveit and X Games rookie Alex Bellemare from Canada rounded out the top three in the qualifiers.
Tom Wallisch, the defending Slopestyle champion and a favorite heading into this contest, failed to advance to the finals. He crashed on his first run and, running last, the pressure was on.
Wallisch's second run, which included a flawless rails section but a slight hand drag on one of the jumps, scored an 80.66 and landed him in ninth place, one spot below the qualifying cutoff and just one point lower than eighth-place Alex Schlopy's top score of 81.66.
X Games judge Steele Spence said there was an intense moment in the judge's quarters trying to determine Wallisch's score.
"After Tom's run, we looked straight to the bubble, which was Alex Schlopy, and we were all in agreement that Tom's run was more difficult than Schlopy's," Spence said. "We reviewed Tom's double-hand grab and had a passionate discussion. In the end, we took it to a vote amongst the five judges and it came out 3-2. Schlopy earned a higher score."
Two weeks ago, Wallisch suffered a partial MCL tear in his knee while competing at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo. For the past two weeks, Wallisch said, he's been doing physical therapy on his knee, and on Friday, he competed with a knee brace.
"Realistically, I shouldn't be skiing right now -- it's an injury that should take four to six weeks to heal," Wallisch said. "But I was really excited to come out and put on a show for the crowds in Aspen."
Wallisch said the knee didn't play a huge part in his performance on Friday, but after the contest, he decided not to compete in Saturday night's Men's Ski Big Air.
"I felt OK with the brace on," he said. "But I have had relatively little practice, since I've spent all week waiting for this to heal. Those were some of the first times I've done those tricks, so that was hard."
The Men's Ski Slopestyle finals take place Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
Men's Ski Slopestyle Elimination