The 5 Guys to Watch in the Men's Olympic Halfpipe
After all the excitement of the Slopestyle it's the turn of the Halfpipe riders to take to the Olympic stage. Halfpipe is the old timer of Olympic snowboarding having first appeared in Nagano in 1998 and its fifth appearance at the Olympics promises to be the most hotly contested yet. We've put together this handy guide about who to watch in the guy's competition.
The Men's competition takes place on Tuesday 11 February 2014. Qualification takes place in the afternoon (10am GMT) and is swiftly followed by the semi-finals, with the whole thing decided by Tuesday night in Russia with the final taking place at 17.30 GMT.
The competition follows the same format as the Slopestyle last week. The top three from each of the two heats will go straight to the final while everyone else gets another chance to slog it out in the semi-finals. The best six from this second round make up the rest of the 12 man field in the final. At each stage riders get two runs to showcase their talents.
[part title="Shaun White - The Favourite"]
Shaun White is Mr Halfpipe and already has two Olympic golds in his extensive medals collection after wins in Turin in 2006 and Vancouver four years ago. White came into the Olympics aiming to win in the pipe as well the Slopestyle event but pulled out of the latter to focus his attentions on his first love - Halfpipe.
Having dominated the discipline for over a decade the snowboarder formerly known as the Flying Tomato is the hot favourite in Sochi and will become the first person to win three golds in Olympic snowboarding if he's victorious once again. He's been training intently for the past year and has shown time and again that he can perform in the big occasions. He may even break out a never before seen trick in the pipe - the triple cork.
[part title="Danny Davis - The Man in Form"]
Danny Davis was the man to step up in White's absence at last months Winter X-Games. He was the first person other than his compatriot to win at the Halfpipe in Aspen since 2007. The bearded American has been critical of conditions in Sochi but has shown that he has the game to win medals.
Some have diminished Davis' win at the X-Games as it came after White pulled out in the event, Davis will be keen to set the record straight and will have his team-mate in his sights. Danny is the snowboarder's snowboarder and has style for miles. He'd be a popular champion and could signal a serious change in the future of Halfpipe if he dethrones Shaun White.
[part title="Ayumu Hirano - The Young Pretender"]
Ayumu Hirano is the youngest competitor in snowboarding at the 2014 Winter Olympics but will fancy his chances of causing an upset. Like White, the young Japanese rider made a name for himself in his early teens when he won the prestigious Burton European Open aged just 14.
He gets huge air for someone who stands just over 5ft tall and has been repeatedly talked about as the guy to displace Shaun White as the King of Halfpipe. At the moment he remains a prince and it'll be interesting to see whether the youngster can handle the huge pressure and attention he'll receive at his first Olympics. Like White, Hirano has been working on the triple cork, something never seen in a Halfpipe before, and if he's on form the young pretender could surprise everyone.
[part title="Iouri Podladtchikov - The Dark Horse"]
The man known as 'iPod' has been one of the few who's been able to go toe to toe with Shaun White in the past few yeas and possible the only man to get the American truly worried. As the inventor of the YOLO flip he's not afraid of pushing the boundaries of Halfpipe riding. Iouri Podladchikov has said that he hasn't had the chance to prepare anything new for Sochi but he's still got the bag of tricks to bring home gold.
Podladchikov was born in Moscow and represented Russia when he competed in Turin in 2006, however he won't be donning the red, white and blue of Mother Russia this time round as he will in the red of Switzerland. It remains to be seen what kind of reception he'll get from the Russian people.
[part title="Greg Bretz - The Spinning Top"]
Greg Bretz is a testament to strength and depth of the US Halfpipe team. Bretz took part in the 2010 Winter Games where he finished 12th but will be expecting to do much better this time around. He's got the tricks to do it and has shown that he's capable of throwing back to back double corks and 1080s - basically he spins a lot and he spins damn well.
The young American is an outside bet but will be confident of pulling an upset as he is the first person to beat Shaun White in a Halfpipe contest for three years when he won at the Dew Tour in December 2013.