2014 Olympic Snowboarding: Preview and Predictions of Men's Halfpipe
Though it is one of the newest additions to the Winter Games, snowboarding has rapidly become one of the most popular. Since snowboarding was first included in the Winter Olympics at Nagano in 1998, Team USA has been a force to be reckoned with in the halfpipe.
In the event, competitors navigate a semicircular course while performing high-flying tricks at each end. The athletes are judged subjectively on technical precision as well as the difficulty and execution of the feats performed.
Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info
How Did We Get Here?
The buzz leading up to this event has been sizzling. Since Shaun White unveiled the latest in his bag of tricks when he qualified for Sochi at Mammoth Mountain back in January, the two-time gold-medal winner has cemented himself as the one to beat for the top spot on the podium.
White displayed his dominance once again with a new move—a cab double cork 1440—and awed the crowd. He again made headlines in the days leading up to the start of the 2014 Winter Games when he withdrew from the slopestyle event.
The cab double cork 1440 is described by NBC Sports as being similar to White's infamous Double McTwist 1260: "The double cork 1440 is like the Double McTwist but with an added half revolution of twist inside the two head-over-heels flips."
The halfpipe event is one of the most visually stunning, exciting events at the Winter Olympics, and this year's edition looks to be bigger and better than ever.
Will the United States' dominance continue?
Heading into the Sochi Games, Team USA has taken home nine of the possible 12 halfpipe medals since snowboarding joined the Olympic lineup. Sage Kotsenburg got the ball rolling for the United States with an upset win in the slopestyle competition on Saturday, and the team looks loaded to continue its superiority in the halfpipe.
Did Shaun White make the right call by skipping slopestyle?
White did not do much for his popularity amongst his fellow athletes when he withdrew from the slopestyle competition to focus on taking home his third straight Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe. He drew harsh criticism from his comrades after that decision, according to CBS New York.
If he competes in the halfpipe and earns his third straight gold medal in a knockout performance, then he made the correct decision. If he fumbles, then he just looks like a selfish competitor who put his own quest for glory in front of his team.
Athletes to Watch
Shaun White remains the brightest star in snowboarding. The popular two-time gold medalist is seeking his third straight gold at the Sochi Games. He possesses the rare ability to get even higher in the air than many of his rivals, and that, combined with his technical precision and creativity, makes him always a top contender to watch.
At only 15 years old, Japan's Hirano has shown talent and finesse well beyond his years. At the X Games in 2013, he also showed that his toughness belies his diminutive stature. Just moments after suffering a significant crash, he dusted himself off and delivered impressively to wind up with a silver medal. This prodigy has the talent and the nerves of steel to perform on the biggest stage.
Representing Canada, Livingston will be making his Olympic debut. The 23-year-old suffered a broken clavicle on Dec. 31 that required surgery, and his Olympic dreams were nearly in doubt. He is a relative unknown in the sport but will try to give Canada another snowboarding medal after the team earned a bronze in slopestyle.
Who Are the Sleepers?
In 2010, Davis was forced to miss the 2010 Winter Games when some drunken misadventures on an ATV resulted in a broken back. Two years later, after a remarkable recovery, he broke his femur. Despite his setbacks, he remains one of the most popular men in the sport. After spending much of his career either on the shelf with injury or in the shadow of Shaun White, he had a breakthrough gold medal at the X Games and will try to parlay that into Olympic gold.
The Russian-born athlete will be competing for Switzerland in the Sochi Games and trying to improve off of a fourth-place finish in Vancouver. Affectionately referred to as "I-Pod," he is a quiet force to be reckoned with here. While White's impressive maneuver of the cab double cork 1440 at Mammoth Mountain was eye-popping, Podladtchikov was the first athlete to successfully perform it in competition.
Complete Medal Predictions
In the slopestyle competition, Sage Kotsenburg set the bar high for Team USA, and Shaun White and Danny Davis will try to keep that momentum going.
Gold: Shaun White
Silver: Ayumu Hirano
Bronze: Danny Davis
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