Snowboarding

2014 Olympic Snowboarding: Preview and Prediction for Slopestyle

Lindsay GibbsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

2014 Olympic Snowboarding: Preview and Prediction for Slopestyle

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Slopestyle is a downhill event that includes a series of obstacles at the start and jumps at the end. Though it is a staple in the X Games, this year it is making its Olympic debut in both the snowboarding and free-style skiing events.

    The qualification rounds for the snowboarding slopestyle event start the day before the opening ceremony and include a legion of the sport's biggest stars. Shaun White will begin his quest for two medals in Sochi, Jamie Anderson from the U.S. will try and turn her status as the favorite into an Olympic gold medal and a bunch of talented Canadians and Norwegians will attempt to start off the Games with some major upsets.

    We take a look at everything you need to know to be ready for the snowboard qualification rides.

Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Schedule

    February 6: men's qualification (1 a.m ET); women's qualification (5 a.m. ET)

    February 8: men's semifinals (12:30 a.m. ET); men's final/medal round(3:45 a.m. ET)

    February 9: women's semifinals (1:30 a.m. ET); women's final/medal round (4:15 a.m ET)

       

    TV/Live Stream Info

    All snowboard slopestyle events will be broadcast on tape delay on NBC Primetime at 8 p.m. ET on February 6, 8 and 9.

    Live streams will be available on www.nbcolympics.com.

Top Storylines

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Is the course safe? 

    On February 3, medal contender Torstein Horgmo of Norway crashed and fell on his face and shoulder during a training run on the official slopestyle course in Sochi and ended up withdrawing from the event. The overly steep course has been widely criticized, with slopestyle athletes comparing it to “dropping out of the sky.”

    Officials began to scramble to make the course safer, but in an already dangerous sport, this will surely be an ongoing issue.

     

    Is Mark McMorris healthy?

    Mark McMorris was viewed by many to be one of the favorites in the slopestyle, but he fell during the X Games last month and fractured his ribs. He claims that he's on track to be good to go in Sochi, but his health will have a major impact on the men's event. 

     

    Will Torah Bright qualify? 

    Outspoken Australian snowboarder Torah Bright, who won a gold medal in the halfpipe in Vancouver, is the only snowboarder—male or female—competing in three events. She'll have her first big challenge when she tries to qualify for slopestyle. 

     

     

Athletes to Watch

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    UPDATE (February 5): White has withdrawn from slopestyle to focus on winning his third straight Olympic gold in the halfpipe.   

    Men

    Shaun White

    Despite the drama that always surrounds him and the fact that he took years off from slopestyle, White is still the one to beat whenever he competes. The redhead skipped the X Games this year to perfect his slopestyle tricks.

    Mark McMorris

    The popular Canadian—who has his own reality show on MTV Canada—was a widespread favorite before he fractured his ribs during the X Games. Still, he says he's improving and on track to compete in Sochi.

    Max Parrot

    With White absent and McMorris injured, Canadian Parrot surprised everyone by dominating the X Games last month with his triple jumps. His gold medal there proved he's a force to watch at the Games.

     

    Women

    Jamie Anderson

    This 23-year-old American snowboarder is the one to beat in Sochi this year despite her second-place finish in this year's X Games. Anderson, who first won gold at the X Games when she was only 17 years old, simply has more talent and tricks up her sleeve than anyone else. 

    Silje Norendal

    The 21-year-old from Norway stunned the snowboarding community with her gold at this year's X Games, finally living up to the promise she'd always shown. It will be worth watching whether she can carry the momentum to the big stage.

     

    Spencer O'Brien

    The talented Canadian snowboard veteran won the slopestyle event at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships in 2013. The 26-year-old is always a threat to make the podium.

Who Are the Sleepers?

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Men

    Stale Sandbech

    Sandbech, the Norwegian snowboarder who won a bronze medal at the X Games this year, will be under even more pressure to perform now that fellow countryman Torstein Horgmo got injured in one of his Sochi training runs. The fun-loving 20-year-old might be able to carry his Aspen momentum right into the Olympics.

     

    Women

    Christy Prior

    The 25-year-old from New Zealand won a gold medal in the final qualification event prior to Sochi and looks to be finally living up to her potential. The AP has predicted (via Si.com) that she will win a bronze medal, and there is certainly a chance that she can sneak onto the podium, but the unpredictable rider will have to make it to the medal round first.

Favorites to Medal

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    Jamie Anderson
    Jamie AndersonRuss Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    UPDATE (February 5): White has withdrawn from slopestyle to focus on winning his third straight Olympic gold in the halfpipe.   

    For the men, expect the medal rounds to be filled with Norwegians, Canadians and Americans. Shaun White should make it to the top of the podium, followed by Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris. Norwegians Gjermund Braaten, Stale Sandbech and Emil Ulsletten. Chas Guldemond from the U.S. and Seppe Smits of Germany are threats as well.

    For the women, expect Jamie Anderson to claim her gold, with Norway's Silje Norendal, Canada's Spencer O'Brien and New Zealand's Christy Prior all fighting to fill out the podium. Isabel Derungs from Switzerland, Aimee Fuller from Great Britain and Torah Bright are ones to watch, too.

     

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