With the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi fast approaching, snowboarders everywhere are getting pumped up. Why? You ask. Maybe it has something to do with the U.S. domination of the event over the past few games. Perhaps, even, it is due to the fact that one Shaun White is rumored to have the triple cork in his back pocket, ready to go at the right moment.
Personally, here at Rack Your Board, we’re excited because the amount of talent in this year’s Olympic snowboarding competitions is better than it has ever been. Take Ayumu Hirano, for example. This kid is 15 years old and is ranked in the top 3 in the world. A 15 year old has a chance of taking down Shaun White, who’s arguably the most talented snowboarder ever. That’s pretty impressive.
Below, we’ve profiled 5 snowboarding athletes to keep your eye on in this year’s Olympic games. While there are countless other athletes that have a shot this year, these gems are the ones that will be the most fun to watch.
Ah yes, the flying tomato. Shaun exploded onto the scene a few years back when he started winning every contest that he entered (at least it seemed that way). He took gold at Winter X Games 3 years in a row as well as gold at the previous 2 Olympic Games. A lot of people are starting to say that Shaun is done, that he’s had his time and now it’s becoming apparent that others in the sport have caught up to him. Not so fast. Check out the video above titled “Russia Calling” to see how hard Shaun has been training for these Olympics. He’s even rumored to have the Triple Cork in his back pocket if he should need it. In fact, Shaun is so serious about the Olympics this year, that he opted out of participating in the Xgames instead of risking injury. Mr. White (his new name, now with short, non-tomato colored hair) is focused, and he’s ready to compete for his third Olympic Gold.
It’s super obvious to anyone who watches Danny ride that he absolutely loves snowboarding. Danny constantly looks like he’s having a blast on the slopes, and while pulling his massive switch method airs in the pipe. Danny also took Gold at Xgames this year with a super stylish yet technically precise run. Many people won’t remember this, but Davis was having the best year of his career about 4 seasons ago and was set to make a run in the Olympics before falling to injury. He’s been recovering and getting better and better every day and now, in 2014, he’s not only back to his previous height, but even better than before. Don’t underestimate Davis in the Olympics this year—he has the skills and the style to take gold.
This kid first burst onto the scene a few years ago and has been getting national attention ever since. At the age of 13, he joined the World Snowboard Tour and began competing with the “big boys” so to speak. Now at age 15, can you guess what he’s ranked on the World tour for Halfpipe competition? First. That’s right, this 15 year old kid out of Japan is ranked number 1 in the world for halfpipe snowboarding. Surprised? Don’t be. He’s been putting pressure on Shaun White and others in competition for years and this winter, it looks like it’s his time to shine in Sochi.
A long time familiar name in female snowboarding, Kelly Clark seems to be giving one last push before retiring from competitive snowboarding. Clark took Gold in the 2002 Olympic games along with a Bronze in 2010. What’s more, looking through her stats, Clark is undoubtedly the best female snowboarder in the world with 15 Gold Medals in competition over the last few years, including a 4-peat at Xgames. Many are counting out Kelly Clark and several athletes in snowboarding are tending to hang it up after reaching the age of 30. We suspect Clark will do the same soon, but only after she wins another Olympic medal. Clark is poised to not only place, but take gold unless another female from the scene comes out of nowehere. Kelly Clark is on a hot streak right now, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Perhaps Kelly Clark’s biggest challenger is 17 year old Arielle Gold out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Gold stormed onto the scene in last year’s World Snowboard tour where she has taken 1 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze medals. Her biggest challenge? Kelly Clark’s stellar push over the last year or so, clearly putting her name ahead of others in the sport. If Gold has learned anything from competing with Clark over the last 2 years, it’s that she’s going to have to bring her A game and take huge risks if she wants to bring home the gold. Keep your eye on Arielle, she just might have what it takes to bring home a medal that matches her last name.