Zack Black’s predictions for Sochi

Snowboarding superpipe

The Winter Olympics are a huge stage for snowboarding. Halfpipe and (the newly introduced) Slopestyle competitions have their largest audience every four years at the Olympics. Here’s my take on where athletes will land in the biggest competition in snowboarding.

Who gets to compete
For Americans, the five qualification events held just prior to the Olympics are a much more difficult string of contests than the Games itself. The depth of talent for snowboarding in the United States in both Slopestyle and Halfpipe makes the qualifiers a huge challenge that must relieve a lot of pressure in Sochi when faced with an international field.

Only four American men and four American women can compete in both events, so some of the best snowboarders in the U.S. don’t make the cut, this year that list includes Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist in men’s halfpipe, Scotty Lago.

Here are the Americans competing in snowboarding in Sochi this year:

  • Halfpipe Men: Taylor Gold, Shaun White, Greg Bretz, and Danny Davis
  • Halfpipe Women: Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter, Ariel Gold, Kaitlyn FarringtonSnowboarding slopestyle
  • Slopestyle Men: Sage Kotzenberg, Ryan Stassle, Chas Gouldemond, Shaun White (will not compete)
  • Slopestyle Women: Jamie Anderson, Ty Walker, Jessika Jenson, Karly Shore

Judging
Snowboarding judging is based off of Overall Impression (O.I.). This form of judging scores competitors out of 100 on everything from amplitude (height out of the halfpipe), difficulty, fluidity, and variety of tricks.

To win in both Slopestyle and Halfpipe in the Olympics you have to go bigger, do harder tricks, land cleanly, and grab your snowboard down the entire course to win. Literally a full pull from top to bottom with no loss in amplitude will be necessary in halfpipe. In slopestyle, judges expect tricks done cleanly on rails and probably a Triple Cork on 2 of the 3 jumps.

If a rider receives a score above a 94 they are standing well for the podium in these events as I would not expect to see a 100 in the Olympics.

Who will win
My predictions for the event could be very wrong and slightly hopeful for some close friends in Sochi.

Halfpipe Men:

  1. Shaun White(expect 2 Double Cork 1440’s only he can do)
  2. Danny Davis (although I want him to win!
  3. Ayumu Hirano

Halfpipe Women:

  1. Torah Bright
  2. Kaitlyn Farrington
  3. Kelly Clark

Slopestyle Men:

  1. Mark McMorris
  2. Max Parrot
  3. Sage Kotzenberg

Slopestyle Women:

  1. Jamie Anderson
  2. Anna Gasser
  3. Possum Torr

I cannot wait to watch the Olympics and root on my friends. Best of Luck to Kaitlyn Farrington, Greg Bretz, Taylor Gold, Danny Davis, Hannah Teter, Sage Kotzenberg, Chas Gueldmond, Scotty James, Nate Johnstone, Kent Callister, Ayumu Hirano, Torah Bright and everyone else out there in Sochi that loves the sport of snowboarding.

-Zach Black

Zach is a member of the Breck Epic Team and can be seen shredding Freeway Terrain Park when he’s not competing with the best snowboarders in the world.