The 5 Ladies to Watch in Women's Olympic Halfpipe Final
After an incredible Slopestyle competition for the girls at the weekend, attention turns to the pipe. Halfpipe has been at the Olympics since 1998 and has seen some special riding but the contest in Sochi promises to be one of the best. The level of competition is expected to be super high and we've compiled a list of the favourites to take home gold on Wednesday.
The Women's competition will follow the same format as the men's contest but will take place the day after on Wednesday 12 February 2013. Like the guys, they'll be aiming to finish in the top six in the qualification round and go straight to the finals. Those that miss out will have another chance in the semi-finals that follow, with the best six going through to the evening's final.
[part title="Kelly Clark - The Women to Beat"]
Kelly Clark has dominated Women's Halfpipe in much the same way as her American teammate, Shaun White, has done in the Men's arena. The pair debuted at the Winter X-Games together, back in 2000, and success has followed since then for both, with Clark winning each of the last four Halfpipe events at the Winter X-Games. She was the clear winner last month and many will expect that to continue in Sochi.
Kelly will be taking part in her third Olympics having won gold in 2002 and a bronze in 2010 in Vancouver. She's got all the trick in the book and if she lays down the run she wants there's few who can even come close. Clark won in Aspen throwing a huge 1080 and is the only women who can pull the trick consistently - it could prove to be the deciding factor.
[part title="Torah Bright - The Defending Champion"]
Torah Bright is a snowboarding renaissance woman. She finished seventh in the slopestyle on Sunday, and will be taking part in the boarder cross next weekend. In between she'll be aiming to defend her crown as Halfpipe Olympic champion after storming to gold in Vancouver in 2010 - the first Australian to claim top spot in a Winter Games. Her campaign on three fronts is an Olympic first and Halfpipe is her favoured event.
The Australian has impeccable board control and always looks super smooth in her riding. She gets huge amplitude in the pipe and though she's had to cut down on her training to focus on her other events she still remains one of the best in the world.
[part title="Hannah Teter - The Dark Horse"]
Despite already having two Olympic Halfpipe medals there's been little hype around American Hannah Teter. Eight years ago she took gold in Turin but found herself struggling to qualify for Sochi after taking some time off between the two to focus on her charity projects. She nailed down her spot after crushing the competition at the final qualifying event.
After initially supporting a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Teter will take her place in the US team and will be looking to re-establish herself as one of Halfpipe's biggest stars after her years away from the competitive circuit.
[part title="Arielle Gold - The Young Pretender"]
Even at the age of 17, Arielle Gold has some big names under her belt having won the 2013 World Championship Halfpipe competition before taking bronze in the Winter X-Games weeks later. In Sochi she's a year older and better for it.
She'll be looking for a medal to match her name as well as being driven on sibling rivalry - her older brother Taylor is the men's Halfpipe team. Despite the huge media attention on the event Gold will remain unfazed having been a snowboarding star since childhood. Her composed style and huge airs could be enough to see nominative determinism win out.
[part title="Queralt Castellet - Snowboarding Matador"]
Queralt Castellet is the sole female member of the Spanish snowboarding team but flying solo suits Castellet. The Spaniard has been a constant rival to Kelly Clark and will be looking to outdo Clark on the biggest stage of all. Castellet has been competing for nearly ten years and has been pushing the standard of the sport at every opportunity during that time.
She was the second woman to pull off the 1080 in Halfpipe and it is the biggest trick in her impressive arsenal. Her super smooth style makes her one of the most watchable riders in the game and her 900 and inverted spins are a dream.