With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix is a major event. It is the official U.S. Olympic team qualifying series for half-pipe, so the stakes will be high as the three-location series kicks off at Copper Mountain, Colo. on Dec. 16.
The series attracts the best male and female performers in the sport, and this year's version will be no different.
Here's a look at the event schedule for the Grand Prix series, a closer look at the events and two legendary stars to watch.
|Copper Mountain, Colo.||Dec. 16-22||NBC - Dec. 22 - 3 p.m.|
|Northstar, Calif.||Jan. 6-12||NBC - Jan. 12 - 1:30 p.m.|
|Mammoth Mountain Resort, Calif.||Jan. 14-19||NBC - Jan. 19 - 3 p.m.|
The structure was popularized for use in skateboarding, but Dough Waugh invented the Pipe Dragon that was used in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. He is one of—if not the most—instrumental people in vaulting snowboarding into an Olympic sport.
It is one of the most visually impressive events under the snowboarding umbrella. Here's a look at two of the best runs on the half-pipe in 2013. Kelly Clark's winning run at the 2013 U.S. Open was sick, but then again the snowboarding community has to expect nothing less from her. Just below that is Louie Vito's third-place performance at the same event.
While half-pipe is quite the spectacle, slopestyle brings about a level of excitement that is unrivaled in the sport, in my opinion. It is all about the most difficult, death-defying tricks, and the event has produced some amazing performances.
One of note in 2013 was Mark McMorris' at the Aspen X Games in January. Here's a look at his record-breaking run. He earned the highest score in snowboard slopestyle history on this one.
Athletes to Watch
Perhaps the most well-known name in the sport is White. The 27-year-old finished first in the half-pipe qualifying event at The Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo. He didn't unveil his newest trick—a twisting, 1440-degree jump—but fans will have their eyes peeled for White to pull it off at one of the Grand Prix events.
Clark is the winningest snowboarder in history—male or female. The 30-year-old has already been named to the U.S. Olympic team, and she looks to shine during the Grand Prix series in preparation for the Sochi Games.
Her amplitude and variety of tricks make her a must-see star every time she competes.