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2014 Olympic Freestyle Skiing: Preview and Predictions for Men's Slopestyle

Jessica PaquetteFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

2014 Olympic Freestyle Skiing: Preview and Predictions for Men's Slopestyle

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Freestyle skiing is the perfect blend of the traditional and the cutting edge. It began as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Winter Games and has grown into a respected, exciting medal event.

    For the first time in Olympic history, the slopestyle competition will be contested. Though it is a new addition to the Olympic roster, it brings a thrilling history to the table and is sure to be one of the most exhilarating events. 

    In the slopestyle competition, the emphasis is on jaw-dropping jumps, difficult tricks and creative maneuvers. Read on as we take a look at the slopestyle portion of men's freestyle skiing.

Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Though the event will be held in the middle of the night (early morning for stateside viewers), it is worth setting an alarm to not miss a moment of the action. History will be made as medals are awarded for this event for the first time in Olympic history.

    Date: February 13

    Time: 1:15 a.m. ET - Men's qualifying slopestyle

    4:30 a.m. ET - Men's slopestyle final

    TV: Click here for TV listings.

    Live stream: Available on the NBC Olympics website.

How Did We Get Here?

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    The Olympics have gotten an infusion of cool with the addition of several events that have been staples at the popular Winter X Games

    At the X Games in 2014, Nick Goepper gave a stunning preview of what to expect at Sochi with his second consecutive gold medal performance. With his intense technical precision and daring stunts, he stamped himself as a strong contender and set the bar high for his fellow athletes.

    With no Olympic history to go off of, the slopestyle competition is breaking ground at the Sochi Games and writing its own page in Olympic lore. 

     

Top Storylines

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    How will it be received?

    There is always a risk factor when introducing a new sport to the Olympic lineup. In an attempt to keep up with changing times and the rise in popularity of extreme sports showcased at the X Games, the addition of the slopestyle competition should be a hit. The women's slopestyle competition was already well received, and the athletes from Canada and Team USA set the bar high for their male counterparts.

    Is Nick Goepper a star on the rise?

    Goepper will be bearing the colors of Team USA when the 19-year-old Indiana native makes his Olympic debut.  He'll be trying to follow in the footsteps of athletes like Shaun White, one who has crossed over from X Games star to Olympic legend to household name. With a pair of X Games gold medals to his credit already, Nick Goepper is quickly becoming a name to remember. 

Athletes to Watch

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Nick Goepper

    An obvious standout and a favorite to top the podium, the 19-year-old will have serious pressure at the Sochi Games. Though he is making his Olympic debut and will have to overcome the nerves that come with that, he appears poised and ready. When interviewed by The Indianapolis Star from his home state, he seemed confident.

    “My body feels great. I’m figuring out my runs. I’m figuring out the different route tricks and the different jumps,” he said while standing at the bottom of the course after completing several runs. “We got tons of practice, which is cool, so we got a lot of time to figure out our runs.”

    James Woods

    After a hip injury sustained while training last Friday nearly cost Woods his Olympic dreams, the 22-year-old British skier has been cleared to compete. His return to the slopes is now clouded with questions about whether or not he is ready for a peak performance, but he is regarded as one of the best in the world and is a factor to watch.

    Russ Henshaw

    Henshaw will be representing Australia and the 23-year-old has been routinely holding his own against top company, proving himself very capable here. He has the ability to pull off incredibly high air and land difficult tricks, making him a major medal threat.

Who Are the Sleepers?

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    Sergei Grits/Associated Press

    Gus Kenworthy

    Kentworthy, a 22-year-old competing for Team USA, has been likened to snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg for his stylistic technique and daredevil tricks. With Kotsenburg taking the gold for Team USA in a minor upset performance, that is a flattering comparison. 

    Henrik Harlaut

    Hailing from Sweden, the 22-year-old comes into the Sochi Games with a strong resume for his Olympic debut. He's already earned gold this year at Aspen's big air competition and has been quite a force in slopestyle as well.

Complete Medal Predictions

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    Andy Wong/Associated Press

    This will mark the first year that medals are awarded in the slopestyle competition in freestyle skiing. These athletes have a chance to make history and leave a strong legacy behind in their sport.  Here are my predictions.

    Gold - Nick Goepper

    Silver - James Woods

    Bronze - Henrik Harlaut 

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