2014 Olympic Snowboarding: Preview and Predictions for Women's Halfpipe
The women will take center stage Wednesday as they showcase their impressive tricks and high-flying stunts on the halfpipe.
Snowboarding has been a relatively new addition to the Winter Olympics roster. While it was met with some initial disapproval from traditionalists, it has grown in popularity since it was first included in the Games at Nagano in 1998.
In the halfpipe event, the athletes are judged on several different factors as they perform on the concave course. Creativity, difficulty, precision and the intangible "wow" effect are some of the factors the judges consider.
Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info
How Did We Get Here?
The men's side of Olympic snowboarding has superstar Shaun White. His female counterpart is Kelly Clark, who has been a dominant force on the halfpipe for the better part of a decade.
After qualifying for the Sochi Games early in December at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo., the 30-year-old snowboarder put on a tour de force Olympic preview at the X Games in Aspen in January, giving the world a taste of what to expect in Sochi.
Clark took home her fourth consecutive X Games gold medal, though her biggest rival for the top spot on the Olympic podium, reigning Vancouver gold medalist Torah Bright, sat out the show in Aspen.
Will Team USA continue to dominate?
Since snowboarding joined the Winter Olympics, there have been 12 potential halfpipe medals available. The ladies from Team USA have taken home six of them. The powerhouse performances have been mirrored on the men's side of the team as well.
In the women's slopestyle event, Jamie Anderson lived up to the hype and took the gold for the United States.
Who is the top halfpipe athlete on Team USA?
Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter both have two Olympic medals. Clark took the gold at Salt Lake in 2002 and the bronze at Vancouver at 2010. Teter was a gold medallist at Turin in 2006 and earned the silver at Vancouver. Both women have an impressive legacy behind them and will try to add to that in Sochi.
Athletes to Watch
Clark is the clear-cut favorite to take home the gold medal in Sochi after a strong showing at the 2014 X Games in Aspen. The veteran athlete is always a top contender for a medal, but after her scintillating display at the X Games, she appears to be on the very top of her game.
Though her performance in the slopstyle event was average, leading to a seventh-place finish, Bright's real strength is on the halfpipe. The 27-year-old Australian defied gravity in Vancouver with a remarkable switch backside 720, which, according to the Australian Olympic team website is a "a double spinning manoeuvre performed by no other woman." She is no stranger to Olympic success and is a top contender to watch.
Also representing Team USA is 17-year-old Arielle Gold. She will be making her Olympic debut and has been holding her own against much older and more experienced rivals. Gold may be part of the next generation of Team USA snowboarding stars.
Who Are the Sleepers?
Despite two Olympic medals to her credit, including a gold at Turin in 2006, Teter has been largely overlooked heading into the Sochi Games. Though she may not be at the peak of her game, as she was when she took home the gold, Teter can be a dominant force on the halfpipe and should not be forgotten.
Groenewoud is one of the most stylish athletes on the halfpipe. She also is competing in memory of her friend, a pioneer of the sport, Sarah Burke. The Canadian athlete could medal but has been in the shadow of the highly publicized and popular Team USA.
Complete Medal Predictions
Team USA has been racking up the medals in both the men's and women's competitions in the slopestyle event. The popular Kelly Clark and Hannah Teeter will try to keep that trend going.
Gold: Kelly Clark (USA)
Silver: Torah Bright (AUS)
Bronze: Hannah Teter (USA)