Just when it looked like freestyle skiing had hit its highest point—literally and figuratively—with the men's aerial competition coming to a close, the skiers will now take to the halfpipe on Day 11.
Here is a look at the current medal tally:
The best men's freestyle skiers in the world will now take to the halfpipe, which could mark another return to the podium for Team USA.
With David Wise at the top of the freestyle skiing halfpipe world right now after claiming the gold medal in the 2014 Winter X Games, he will look to continue his reign in the Sochi Games.
The halfpipe event provides plenty of stiff competition for the American with Kevin Rolland of France and fellow countrymen Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier, but Wise should be up for the challenge.
Before Day 11 officially begins, here is a look at the full schedule for freestyle skiing and predictions for who will take home medals for their country in the competition.
|Event||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|Men's Ski Halfpipe Qualification||8:45 a.m.||NBC*||nbcolympics.com|
|Men's Ski Halfpipe Final||12:30 p.m.||NBC*||nbcolympics.com|
sochi2014.com/nbcsports.com (*Tape Delay)
The favorite coming into Sochi is clearly Wise, but the reasons why are even more intriguing and worth watching.
The 23-year-old has won the gold medal in every X Games competition over the last three years and did the same in the 2013 World Championships, but his success thus far hasn't been enough.
It's a good one, too, he pledges. Nail it cleanly and a medal could be hung around his neck in the event that's making its Olympic debut on Tuesday.
"If I land it, yeah, pretty good shot," he said.
Care to give a hint as to what's in store?
"No," the freestyle skier from Reno, Nevada, said. "You'll have to watch."
Will Wise win gold?
With that type of suspense, it appears if he's able to pull off the new trick he should certainly win. But if the Sochi Games have taught us anything, nothing is certain on the halfpipe.
Shaun White came up short along with every one of his teammates. Kelly Clark finished with a bronze rather than a gold as Kaitlyn Farrington shocked the field by taking gold.
Wise was actually in attendance during the halfpipe loss for White and Team USA, as he posted a photo at the end of the competition on his Twitter account:
Wow. That was an insane half pipe final! I guess even a prodigy has his limits... so glad I was here to witness it. pic.twitter.com/ZC2uSvZKw0— David Wise (@mrDavidWise) February 11, 2014
But when the freestyle skiers take to the halfpipe, it's difficult to see Wise going down in the first ever running of the event.
Wise's run of dominance is expected to continue thanks to his ability to go bigger than any other athlete in the event, as Martha Bellisle of the Reno Gazette-Journal notes:
They will be judged on the spins, flips and other combinations they make each time they shoot above the lip of the pipe. The rules do not require a certain number of “hits” or “airs” during each run. It’s up to the athletes to decide how to use the halfpipe to maximize their scores.
Wise has a history of using his air-time to the maximum effect.
Along with Wise, Yater-Wallace and Currier have a great shot of joining their American teammate on the podium. If one of the two finds a way to medal and keep the Canadians off the podium, it would earn the Americans seven medals and surpass Canada for the most in the sport.
But Rolland is a former gold medal winner in the X Games back in both 2010 and 2011. The French skier has been on the stage with Wise in the last two competitions, but he has only walked away with a bronze and silver on the halfpipe.
With the men taking the stage on Tuesday in Sochi, it could be another historic day for the Americans. But with Rolland and a field full of other top competitors, it will be interesting to see if Wise can win the first ever gold medal in the sport at the Olympics.
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