Since halfpipe and snowboardcross were added to the Olympic program in 1998 and 2006, U.S. athletes have continued to leave their indelible mark on snowboarding, while helping elevate the sport to new heights. Most notably is snowboard star Shaun White, who has become a household name. While White may be most the most notable snowboarder, there are several other athletes within slopestyle snowboarding that make up the fabric of Team USA.
Working his way up the ladder, Chas Guldemond has captured two X Games medals, three U.S. Grand Prix wins and a World Snowboarding Tour slopestyle championship title. Also of note is Eric Willett, who earned the silver medal in his X Games debut – his first of three X Games medals in just two years. Also, Jamie Anderson has been a consistent force in women’s slopestyle snowboarding with seven X Games medals to her credit.
Olympic golden girl Kelly Clark recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of her first Olympic gold medal and is still a driving force in women’s halfpipe. Her signature amplitude and precision is how Clark makes sure she is evolving the sport. Last season, Clark garnered 16-consecutive wins before her streak was snapped by Elena Hight at the U.S. Open. Since then, Hight has given Clark a bit of pressure, taking wins at the U.S. Grand Prix last season. Also making a splash is Gretchen Bleiler, who has claimed five X Games medals.
Snowboardcross has seen a U.S. turnaround, with podium finishes from Seth Wescott, Jonathan Cheever and Nick Baumgartner. On the women’s side, Lindsey Jacobellis suffered a knee injury early in the 2012 season that ended her world cup winning streak at three. Coming up from the NorAM circuit is Jackie Hernandez. She won nearly every NorAM event she entered and took an impressive win at the 2012 FIS World Cup Final.
There are eight snowboarding events on the program for the Sochi Games, including men’s and women’s halfpipe, men’s and women’s parallel giant slalom, men’s and women’s parallel slalom, and men’s and women’s snowboard cross.
- Jonathan Cheever is not only a world-class snowboardcross athlete, but also a professional plumber. He suffered an Achilles tendon injury during the late 2012 season and endured painful surgery and rehab. His personal website, TeamCheever.net, features humorous episodes that provide a glimpse into his competitive life and personal adventures with snowboarding.
- Life has not always been easy for slopestyle specialist Sage Kotsenburg. As a young child, he was diagnosed with mild Tourette syndrome. Despite his disorder, Kotsenburg found refuge and moderation through snowboarding.
- Zippo lighters are a household name, especially if your name is Hagen Kearney. Kearney is part of the Zippo lighter family that was founded by his grandfather. He paid homage to his family legacy with a tattoo on his right bicep.
- When he was 18 years old, Chas Guldemond picked up his gear and moved to Lake Tahoe to pursue his dream of snowboarding. Working side jobs, he lived off peanut butter and jelly and got rides from strangers to the mountain. He is a prime example of an average guy who works hard for everything he has.
- With one Olympic appearance and multiple titles and medals under his belt, there is a good chance Louie Vito will be at the top of the halfpipe medal stand at Sochi Games. In 2011-12, Vito was on Shaun White’s heels at every major halfpipe competition, trailing roughly by four points. The 2012-13 season will likely display a battle for the top spot between the two.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
Anderson is one of the top snowboarding slopestyle athletes who consistently climbs atop the podium at nearly every major event. Boasting eight X Games medals and numerous U.S. Open titles, Anderson is constantly raising the bar among her competitors. Her ability to combine smooth combinations on the rails and float jumps distinguishes herself from the field.
Two-time Olympic medalist Clark is a legend in her sport. Ten years after celebrating her Olympic gold-medal anniversary she is still leading the charge for women’s halfpipe snowboarding with her tricks, style and consistency. Clark strives for excellence as seen during the 2011-12 season with her impressive 16-consecutive victories. Not to mention her eight X Games medals, four-time overall grand prix titles and World Snowboarding Tour championship title.
In 2005, Guldemond moved from New Hampshire to Lake Tahoe to pursue snowboarding. Fast forward eight years, three U.S. Grand Prix wins, two X Games medals and one World Snowboarding Tour championship title, and Guldemond is on top of his competitive game in slopestyle. His progressive tricks and smooth style often win over the judges and fans.
One look at Jacobellis’ trophy room illustrates how she has run the snowboardcross women’s field for the last seven years. To her name, she has one Olympic silver medal, 26 world cup titles, nine X Games medals and three U.S. Grand Prix titles.
With two Olympic gold medals under his belt and an outstanding snowboardcross career that includes three world championship silver medals, nine X Games medals, five U.S. Grand Prix titles and a world championship title, Wescott has proved that he is here to stay. As a main influencer of his sport, Wescott is arguably the most respected snowboardcross athlete of his time.
Two-time Olympic halfpipe gold medalist White has become synonymous with snowboarding. With 17 winter X Games medals, eight summer X Games medals and three U.S. Open Snowboarding titles, White is looking to take over slopestyle at the Sochi Games. After all, it was his original choice of discipline when he started snowboarding at age 6.
The U.S. can receive up to 24 quota spots in snowboarding for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, which can include a max of 14 athletes of either gender and up to four competitors per event. Athletes qualify a spot for the U.S. with one top-30 finish at a FIS World Cup or world championships event between July 1, 2012 and Jan. 19, 2014. Additionally, athletes need to earn a minimum of 100 FIS points in halfpipe snowboarding, 50 FIS points in slopestyle snowboarding and 80 FIS points for snowboardcross in their respective event.
The Olympic selection criteria will be approved in May 2013. The 2013-14 U.S. Grand Prix will be the Olympic qualification events for halfpipe and slopestyle snowboarding.
|Feb. 10-17||FIS World Cup/Sochi Test Event||Sochi, Russia|
|Feb. 23||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||Moscow, Russia|
|March 8-10||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||Arosa, Switzerland|
|March 15-16||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic|
|March 15-17||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||Veysonnaz, Switzerland|
|March 16||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||La Molina, Spain|
|March 20-27||FIS Snowboarding World Cup||Sierra Nevada, Spain|
|Dec. 9-15||U.S. Grand Prix||Copper Mountain, Colo.|
|Jan. 17-19||U.S. Grand Prix||Park City, Utah|
|Jan. 17-27||FIS World Snowboarding Championships||Stoneham, Quebec|