When one thinks of American snowboarding over the last decade, one name instantly pops to mind. Shaun White. Also known as The Flying Tomato he, is not just the face of American snowboarding, but the face of snowboarding, period.
White, who won the gold medal in the men's halfpipe at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin and at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, did not meet expectations four years ago at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, as he only finished fourth. Last month, White silenced his critics at a World Cup in Snowmass, CO. He posted an amazing score of 100 points as he successfully executed a frontside double cork 1440, cab double cork 1080, frontside 540, double McTwist 1260 and a frontside double cork 1260.
Another American who has a strong chance for Olympic gold is Chloe Kim in the women's halfpipe. At 17 years of age, Kim is 14 years younger than White, but is already putting up an outstanding resume in women's snowboarding. She has won three gold medals at the Winter X Games in Aspen over the last four years and has won the World Cup title the last two years.
Three other American women have a very good chance of getting on to the Olympic podium in snowboarding. Jamie Anderson, who won the gold medal in women's slopestyle at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, has won 15 medals at the Winter X Games, the most ever by a woman. She enters the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, as the gold medalist at the 2018 Winter X Games and the gold medalist at a 2016 World Cup in Bokwang, South Korea.
No American woman has experienced more heartbreak at the Olympic Winter Games in the last 12 years than Lindsey Jacobellis in the women's snowboardcross. Jacobellis crashed before the finish line at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin and had to settle for silver. At the last two Olympic Winter Games, Jacobellis crashed as well and failed to reach the podium. A five-time world champion, Jacobellis should battle Michela Moioli of Italy and Chloe Trespeuch of France for women's snowboardcross gold.
At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongcghang, big air snowboarding will be making its Olympic debut as it replaces parallel slalom on the Olympic program. American Julia Marino, is a strong Olympic medal contender in women's big air, as she is the reigning silver medalist at the Winter X Games Europe and finished third on the World Cup circuit in 2017.
It will be tough for Marino to beat Anna Gasser of Austria. Gasser enters the Olympic Winter Games as the reigning X Games champion, World Cup champion and world champion. Another strong favorite for Olympic gold in snowboarding is Pierre Vaultier of France (men's snowboard cross), who is the reigning world champion and World Cup champion.
Here are my Olympic predictions in snowboarding:
Men's Big Air:
Event: Feb. 23 @ 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (final)
GOLD--Shaun White--United States
Event: Feb. 13 @ 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT (final)
Men's Parallel Giant Slalom:
Event: Feb. 23-- Round of 16 @ 10:15 pm ET/7:15 pm PT; Quarterfinals @ 10:38 pm ET/7:38 pm PT; Semi-Finals @ 10:52 pm ET/7:52 pm PT; Finals @ 11:04 pm ET/8:04 pm PT
Event: Feb. 10 @ 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (final)
Men's Snowboard Cross:
Event: Feb. 15-- Quarterfinals @ 12:04 am ET/9:04 pm PT (Feb. 14); Semi-Finals @ 12:25 am ET/9:25 pm PT (Feb. 14); Finals @ 12:41 am ET/9:41 pm PT (Feb. 14)
Women's Big Air:
BRONZE--Julia Marino--United States
Event: Feb. 22 @ 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT (final)
GOLD--Chloe Kim--United States
Event: Feb. 12 @ 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (final)
Women's Parallel Giant Slalom:
GOLD--Ester Ledecka--Czech Republic
SILVER--Alena Zavarzina--Olympic Athletes from Russia
BRONZE--Ramona Theresia Horfmeister--Germany
Event: Feb. 23--Round of 16 @ 10 pm ET/7 pm PT; Quarterfinals @ 10:30 pm ET/7:30 pm PT; Semi-Finals @ 10:48 pm ET/7:48 pm PT; Finals @ 10:58 pm ET/7:58 pm PT
SILVER--Christy Prior--New Zealand
BRONZE--Jamie Anderson--United States
Event: Feb. 11 @ 8 pm ET/5 pm PT (final)
Women's Snowboard Cross:
BRONZE--Lindsey Jacobellis--United States
Event: Feb. 15-- Quarterfinals @ 10:15 pm ET/7:15 pm PT; Semi-Finals @ 10:36 pm ET/7:36 pm PT; Finals @ 10:52 pm ET/7:52 pm PT