Snowboard HP Preview: Podladtchikov confirms start
It was probably the biggest question of the past two days: will Iouri Podladtchikov be able to start at the World Championships Halfpipe event at Kreischberg? But today, after a successful second training, the reigning World Champion gave the green light for tomorrow's qualifiers.
With the Olympic Champion ready to drop in, it's obvious that the Russia-born Swiss athlete will be the odds-on favourites, despite having only come back from a six-week ankle injury just a few days ago.
However, there are a few men out there who can raise a valid claim on the podium.
2011 world champion Nathan Johnston is definitely one to watch out for, if the Aussie pipe slayer manages to fit in five hits to his run, given the huge air time this kid from down under has.
In addition, his teammate Scotty James underlined his strength last winter by bringing home the Crystal Globe for the best halfpipe rider of the 2014 season.
Then, there are riders like Yiwei Zhang (CHN), Christian Hitsch Haller (SUI), Arthur Longo, Chase Josey (USA) or Finnish rippers Janne Korpi and Markus Malin, and all the above-mentioned are podium threats.
In the women's competition, Torah Bright (AUS) might not have shown everything she is capable of on the first two training days, but the 2010 Olympic champion and Sochi Silver medallist is well-known for being able to deliver when she has to, making her a podium threat in any event.
As is Sarka Pancochova (CZE), her being the one to have won the last halfpipe event in the Kreischberg pipe (although it's dating back to January 2010).
The Czech styler who was the overall Snowboard Freestyle World Cup title winner last season has some tricks in store which can bring her at least a top-3 finish.
But don't forget Chinese Xuetong Cai who brings down her runs like a machine, Sophie Rodriguez from France, 2011 World Champion Holly Crawford (AUS), Spanish rider Queralt Castellet or Alexandra Duckworth (CAN) who dealt pretty well with the Kreischberg pipe today.
The qualifiers will kick off tomorrow morning with the ladies dropping in first (9:25 AM CET) with the men following at 2:45 PM (Heat 1) and 5:15 PM (Heat 2).