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Saturday, February 1, 2014

U.S. Snowboarding Olympic Preview | Snowboarders to Watch in Sochi

As you know, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are fast approaching. NBC practically has a countdown clock in the corner of their programming, and almost all of the major news outlets have at least one person reporting live from Sochi already. However, a few of the U.S. Olympic teams have yet to be finalized. In fact, this past week was the FIS Snowboard World Cup, which gave a few underdogs a last shot at making the U.S Snowboarding team.

The snowboard team going to Sochi is a mixed bag of seasoned pros and newbies who could take the games as an opportunity to establish themselves as serious international contenders. StoreYourBoard has already filed you in on a few up and coming snowboarders making a name for themselves on the slopes, so let’s take a look and see who else we will be seeing represent the U.S. at this year’s Olympic games at Sochi.

1. Shaun White

I don’t think anyone doubted the fact that White was going to make the U.S. team for a minute. He is arguably the most famous snowboarder in the world, with two Olympic golds under his belt. One thing that may be different this time around is his routine. He’s lost his trademark long red locks and developed a business empire around his image. Gone is the free spirited rebel of the group and instead emerges a seasoned pro who has enough experience to know the events as well as the back of his hand. I expect to see a technically precise routine from him given his expertise at this point. I don’t think expecting him to nab himself another metal would be unrealistic either...

2. Jamie Anderson

This year marks the first time that Slopestyle snowboarding has ever appeared at the Winter Olympics, and all eyes are on 23 year old Jamie Anderson. She made her debut at the age of 16 at the 2006 Winter X Games where she scored a bronze in slopestyle and secured a place on the list of snowboarders to watch. The next year she was back on the podium, this time with a gold around her neck. Every year since her debut she’s earned a medal at the Winter X Games, and in total has picked up four golds, one silver, and one bronze. This is going to be her first time at the Olympics and she’s favored to bring home the gold in her event.

3. Greg Bretz

Those who don’t have a great knowledge of snowboarding likely haven’t heard of Bretz. However, he’s definitely made a name for himself on the slopes this year after beating Shaun White at the Dew Tour to take home first place in the halfpipe. An underdog of sorts, always performing in White’s shadow, Bretz may now have the experience and skill to emerge on top in Sochi. He’s currently ranked fifth in the FIS Freestyle Overall Men’s rankings, the only American on the list. In addition to that, he’s at the top of the pack in the FIS’ Men’s Halfpipe rankings. There is a definite chance we could see him on the podium in Sochi... now the question is if he will manage to best White again or not.

4. Arielle Gold

This 17 year old from Steamboat Springs, Colorado hasn’t even graduated from high school, but is already labeled as one of the ones to watch in Sochi. She first caught the snowboarding world’s attention when she won two silver medals at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. The next year she was on the pro circuit, landing a gold in halfpipe at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships and a bronze in superpipe at the Winter X Games.

5. Taylor Gold

Yep, you read that right, another Gold, and yes, they are brother and sister. The media is going to have a field day with this great story of two siblings chasing the Olympic dream in the same sport, albeit different sexes. At 20, Gold is already third on the international rankings after a stellar performance at this years FIS Snowboarding World Cup. He also won the U.S. Revolution Tour and placed sixth at the Burton U.S. Open. While he shows promise, going up against Shaun White in the halfpipe would be an incredibly daunting position to be in for any rookie. The jury is still out whether or not he’ll be able to make it onto the podium, but props to Taylor for landing a spot on the team.