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The Top Contenders: Men's Snowboard Halfpipe

16 January 2018

SNOWBOARD HALFPIPE: With some of the biggest names in Winter sports taking to the pipe at Bokwang Snow Park in less than a month, the men’s snowboard halfpipe competition is guaranteed to be one of the most highly anticipated events of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Australian Contingent
23-year-old Scotty James is leading the charge for Australia as the 2017 World Champion, Crystal Globe winner and X-Games gold medallist. The two-time Olympian won silver at the Aspen Snowmass World Cup to kick off 2018 with a massive score of 96.25 and already has a silver medal under his belt this season from the invitational Dew Tour.

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Kent Callister finished 9th on Olympic debut at Sochi 2014. He placed 8th at the Olympic test event in February last year, finished 11th at the 2017 World Championships in Sierra Nevada and narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals at the 2017 Dew Tour, placing 13th. Fellow Sochi Olympian Nate Johnstone placed 13th on Olympic debut in 2014. He also scored a top-20 finish at the 2017 World Championships, placing 14th.

Shaun White (USA)

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Shaun White has been at the top of the men’s snowboard halfpipe game since he won his first World Cup event in 2005 and is the most successful snowboard halfpipe athlete of all time. The 31-year-old won Olympic gold at Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010, before finishing 4th at Sochi 2014. With 13 X Games gold medals to his name, White finished the 2016/17 World Cup season ranked third with two podium finishes from three events. White won bronze at the opening World Cup of the 2017/18 season before recently winning gold at the Snowmass World Cup with his second ever (and only third in history) score of 100. If the past decade and a half is anything to go by, White is always a contender for the top spot on the podium.

Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)

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Defending Olympic Champion Iouri Podladtchikov has been a regular on the men’s snowboard halfpipe circuit for more than a decade. The three-time Olympian placed 37th on debut at Torino 2006 before finishing fourth at Vancouver 2010. The 29-year-old has three World Championship medals under his belt, including a silver from Sierra Nevada in 2017, and four X Games medals in his trophy cabinet. Podladtchikov wrapped up the 2016/17 World Cup series ranked fourth and finished fifth at the Dew Tour in December 2017.

Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka (JPN)

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Keep an eye out for Japanese young guns Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka, who won silver and bronze respectively at Sochi 2014. Hirano became the youngest snowboarder to win an Olympic medal when he won silver at his debut Games at just 15 years of age. The now 19-year-old won gold in the first two World Cup events of the 2017/18 season. Two-time Junior World Champion and Sochi bronze medallist Hiraoka placed fourth at the 2017 World Championships and is off to a sound start to the current season, with a seventh, 14th and 17th place finish under his belt so far.

Ben Ferguson and Jake Pates (USA)

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Ben Ferguson and Jake Pates are two up-and-coming US snowboarders looking to make their mark on debut at PyeongChang. Ferguson won gold in halfpipe and silver in slopestyle at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, 2012 and finished last season ranked eighth in the world. The 22-year-old won silver in this season’s opening World Cup in Copper Mountain, won bronze at the Dew Tour last month and finished fifth at the Snowmass World Cup last week. 19-year-old Pates swept the gold medals in both halfpipe and slopestyle at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games, was the surprise winner of the 2017 Dew Tour in December, and recently finished fourth at the 2018 Snowmass World Cup.

Georgia Thompson
olympics.com.au

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