Olympic Round Up
With only a few days away from the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and the first snowboard event (qualifiers for slopestyle contest scheduled for Feb 6) every nation participating in snowboarding has announced the athletes they will be sending to compete in the new Olympic events of slopestyle and parallel slalom as well as snowboard cross, parallel giant slalom and halfpipe.
Approximately some 225 athletes will be on hand to compete in the five snowboard events.
The introduction of parallel slalom and slopestyle to the Olympic programme has created an unprecedented number of medals to be won, and 30 pieces of hardware will be handed out across the five men's and five ladies' competitions.
Vancouver 2010 saw 18 medals awards in snowboard events at the Games, while at the birth of Olympic snowboard competition, in Nagano 1998, twelve medals were awarded in the snowboard events of halfpipe and giant slalom.
After the remarkable Sochi out of two-time Olympic SBX Champion Seth Wescott (USA) who didn't earn his spot for the US team, five of the six gold medallists from Vancouver 2010 will be on hand at Sochi 2014 to defend their titles:
Torah Bright (AUS) and Shaun White (USA) in halfpipe ,who both are also top favourites for a medal in slopestyle, wrist-injured Maelle Ricker (CAN) in snowboard cross plus PGS title defenders Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED) and Jasey Jay Anderson (CAN), who will become the only snowboarder to have competed at every Olympics since snowboarding became part of the programme in 1998 going into his fifth Olympics.
Shaun White could become the first snowboarder to celebrate an Olympic title three-peat.
The US superstar was the second snowboarder to ever win a back to back title. The first one was Philipp Schoch in PGS (2002 and 2006). White's fellow countryman Seth Wescott became the third athlete to do so in 2010.
There are also two sets of siblings competing in the various snowboard events, both well-decorated riders.
The Schoch brothers Simon and Philipp from Switzerland who competed head to head in the 2006 PGS finals with the better end for Philipp are once again giving a shot to win a medal, this time in both, the parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom.
In addition, Arielle and Taylor Gold from the US are odds-on favourites for an Olympic medal in the halfpipe.
Besides that, Torah Bright will be the only athlete to compete in three different events: halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross.
By nation, there are plenty of countries who have sent almost the maximum or the max of riders such as the Swiss (23), the Canadians (19) and Americans (24).
By contrast, several nations will be represented at the Sochi 2014 snowboarding discipline by a single athlete. Brazil, Andorra and Bulgaria all fall in this category.
Up and down the list of Snowboarding competitors who are on their way to Sochi 2014 or already arrived are Olympic medallists, Olympians, World Champions, Crystal Globe winners, X-Games victors, record holders, and innovators.
Every athlete competing has a hero's story to tell, and a lucky few will get to share that story with the world.
With about 225 athletes representing some 30 diverse nations, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be a true showcase of the international appeal of snowboarding.
Stars will be made, dreams will be realized, and the flame will be kindled in the minds of a whole new generation of riders by the time it's all said and done in Sochi.