ROSA KHUTOR, Russia Defending champion Hannah Kearney underlined her status as favourite for the women's freestyle moguls by leading the first 10 qualifiers into the final in the evening twilight at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Thursday.
The 27-year-old American plunged around the bumps and down the 247-metre slope in 30.14 seconds to earn 23.05 points and pip Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who were awarded 22.64 and 22.28 points for second and third.
Another American, Eliza Outtrim, qualified in fourth place but the United States contingent was outnumbered by the Dufour-Lapointe family with eldest sister Maxime also making the top 10 in eighth place.
There was also a place in the final for Japan's 34-year-old Aiko Uemura, who finished seventh as she started her fifth Olympic campaign. A second qualifying round will take place before Saturday's final.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond)