Winter Olympics 2022 Snowboarding – What to Look Out For
Snowboard Expert Shane H. overviews the snowboarders to look out for, as well as the events you have to watch in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
With the 2022 Winter X Games in the rearview, we now look to the biggest global snowboarding contest of the year, the Winter Olympics. While some purists don’t even consider snowboarding a sport, winning an Olympic Medal is still the zenith of athletic achievement. Riders from around the world represent their home countries in a show of national pride to decide who has the best snowboarders on the planet.
This year’s Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China, hardly the epicenter of snowboarding. While most events will be based 180km north in Genting Snow Park, the Big Air Contest will take place in a huge arena in the heart of Beijing. We won’t get into the politics, but with the largest population on the planet, the snowboarding industry surely sees the growth potential of introducing riding to China’s 1.4 billion person population.
There will be a total of 238 riders from 31 countries, with up to four athletes per country competing in each event. The U.S. will have four men and four women representing most categories. Several of our riders will compete in multiple categories, with all Slopestyle contestants also representing Team USA in Big Air. Interestingly, all the individual U.S. gold medalists from the 2018 Games in Sochi—Jamie Anderson, Chloe Kim, Red Gerard, and Shawn White—will return to the 2022 Games.
This year’s events include Slopestyle, Big Air, Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS), Snowboard Cross (Boardercross), and Halfpipe. A new mixed-team event has been added in the Boardercross category, with teams of male and female riders racing to a finish line. For more on the different snowboarding events and which we have a chance of winning, check out Your Guide to the Snowboarding Events at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Team USA comes in as the favorite with 31 medals from prior Olympic Games. Switzerland has 13, France 12, and both have Canada biting at their heels. With 11 medals and a talent-packed roster, the Canadians could easily rise into the top 3.
Format and Scoring
The competition format generally consists of a qualifying round and a final round for each discipline.
The racing categories, PGS and Snowboard Cross, have qualifying or seeding rounds before head-to-head finals. Races are not scored; whoever makes it to the bottom first, wins.
The freestyle categories, Halfpipe, Slopestyle, and Big Air, are scored by judges. Halfpipe and Slopestyle give riders two attempts to earn a qualifying score. The top 12 riders move on to the finals, where riders have three runs to show what they’ve got. In each round, only the rider’s top score counts.
In Big Air, riders get three runs per round. In the final, a rider’s best two scores combine for their total, so they’ll need to lay down two solid runs with varying tricks in each.
In all three of the freestyle categories, rider’s runs will be judged on the following:
- Amplitude: Height. Go big or go home.
- Difficulty: Technical difficulty. Show the judges the biggest spins and the hardest version of each trick. Spin to win.
- Variety: Diversity of tricks. Mix it up with creative grabs and different rail lines.
- Execution: Stability, fluidity, and control. Land clean and grab the board properly.
- Progression: New tricks or linking together tricks in a way that has never been seen before. Throw down some NBD (Never Been Done) tricks and make sure the entire run flows smoothly.
What to Expect
Slopestyle and Big Air
Lots of big-name talent from around the world will drop in to show off their rail and air game. All riders competing in Slopestyle will also be charging Big Air. In Slopestyle, riders showcase their versatility and ability to link tricks by hitting a combination of rail and jump lines. Big Air is a rider’s showcase of their best single trick.
Marcus Kleveland (NOR) and Mark McMorris (CAN) come into the Olympics with momentum. In the most recent major contest (Winter X Games), McMorris walked away with the gold in Slopestyle and Kleveland took the Silver. Kleveland also earned gold in both Big Air and Knuckle Huck. Both are coming off big wins and would like to keep the ball rolling into the Olympics.
Representing Team USA in Slopestyle and Big Air are Red Gerard, Dusty Hendricksen, Sean Fitzsimons, and Chris Corning. Dusty is coming off a bit of an X Games shocker. After scooping multiple gold medals in 2021, he was only able to pick up a Bronze in this year’s event. Red Gerard is a man on a mission and has stated that his focus over the past several months has been leading Team USA to victory. He brought home the gold in Slopestyle during the last Olympics and plans to repeat.
We’ve also got our eyes on international riders Sven Thorgren (SWE), Mons Roisand (NOR), Staale Sandbech (NOR), Rene Rinnekangas (FIN), and Max Parrot (CAN).
It will be interesting to see how the medal count shakes out in these two events. With huge talent coming from the USA, Canada, and Norway, it’s easy to imagine both podiums being filled by riders from these three countries.
The big battle in both events will be Jamie Anderson (USA) vs. Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL). Zoi has been on fire the past two years and is looking to improve on the bronze she brought home from the 2018 Olympics. The Kiwi bested Anderson at this year’s X Games, taking home two gold medals to Anderson’s pair of silvers. Jamie has more Olympic experience with two Winter Olympics under her belt, holding two gold medals and a silver. While Sadowski-Synnott seems to be the heir apparent to Queen Anderson, it’s never wise to bet against the veteran. Jamie has been the dominant name in Women’s Snowboarding for the past decade and isn’t likely to relinquish her crown quietly.
Other riders to look out for include Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN)—an Olympic veteran and bronze medalist in this year’s X Games—along with Laurie Blouin (CAN), Anna Gasser (AUT), and Tess Coady (AUS). The Women’s Slopestyle & Big Air roster is chock-full of Olympic medalists and X Games champions. Any one of them could best Zoi and Jamie if they stay on their feet and toss down unique runs.
Arguably the biggest and most popular event is Halfpipe. It is the oldest freestyle snowboarding event, having come on the scene at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Team USA has consistently been the dominant force, holding 8 of the 12 gold Medals in Halfpipe. With returning champions Shawn White and Chloe Kim, Team USA has the skill and experience to increase their medal count.
Team USA will be led by Shawn White, who, at 35, is one of the oldest athletes in the competition. This will be Shawn’s last Olympics and he wants to go out on top. White is backed up by stellar talent in the form of Joey Chase, Taylor Gold, and Lucas Foster. Each can throw down huge multi-corked rotations and are all capable of reaching the podium with the right run.
Team USA will have its work cut out for it because the international competition is stacked. Team Japan is gunning for the podium with 2022 X Games Medalist brothers, Ayumu and Kaishu Hirano. Ayumu already holds two silver medals from previous Winter Olympics and wants to show the world that Japan has the talent for gold.
Scotty James (AUS) is coming off an X Games win where he put up a flawless performance. James has an Olympic bronze but would like to earn a more precious metal. Olympic vets Jan Scherrer (SUI) and Louis Vito (ITA) have the experience to podium if they can keep up with younger riders’ ever-expanding bag of tricks.
Other returning Olympians include Derek Livingston (CAN), Patrick Burgener (SUI), and Seamus O’Connor (IRL), a Park City local representing Ireland as their sole snowboarding participant. The winning runs in Halfpipe will need flawless execution coupled with high-difficulty tricks. Simply having a stand-up run will not be enough. Riders need to throw caution to the wind and go huge while performing tricks that have only recently been invented.
Chloe Kim will lead Team USA into battle on the women’s side. Having backup the likes of Maddie Mastro, Zoe Kalapos, and Tessa Maud gives the U.S. a chance to place multiple riders. Kim has taken over the dominance in Women’s Halfpipe originally started by Kelly Clark and Hannah Teeter. She has a huge bag of tricks, a few of which have never been landed by another female competitor. The way she effortlessly links tricks in her high amplitude runs means she’s the one to beat.
Japan has some incredible female talent intent on bringing home hardware. Sena Tomita took advantage of Chloe Kim’s absence from the X Games this year and walked away with gold. Sena’s younger sister Ruki Tomita, along with Kurumi Imai, and one of the event’s youngest competitors, Mitsuki Ono, have all been training overtime to put Japan’s stamp on the competition.
Queralt Castellet (SPN) is one of only two riders competing for Spain in any event. Her impressive showing at Winter X means she’s one of the riders to watch. During X Games she went huge and nearly bested Sena Tomita’s winning run. Elizabeth Hosking (CAN), Emily Arthur (AUS), Jaiyu Liu (CHN), Sarka Pancochova (CZE), and Leng Qiu (CHN) round out the list of Olympic Veterans returning this year. There is also a bevy of Youth Olympic Champions stepping into the game that will keep the veteran riders on their toes.
Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS)
PGS is unlike any of the freestyle-based snowboarding events. With roots closer to traditional ski racing, PGS pits competitors in a head-to-head sprint to the bottom. Riders must negotiate a set path of gates by turning edge to edge while streaking down the steep slope. The gear also looks quite different. A super-thin profile, directional board is mounted with hard, ski-like boots that are greatly elevated above the deck. Stance angles are forward set, more akin to a slalom water ski than one typically sees in board sports. These setups allow riders to reach speeds in excess of 70km/hr. There are penalty time additions for riders that miss gates, but otherwise, the only thing that matters is being first across the finish line.
Switzerland has long been the dominant country in Slalom. With deep roots in alpine racing, Nevin Galmarini (SUI) returns this year as the defending champion. Vic Wild (ROC) holds two gold medals from 2014 when there were two Parallel Slalom events (Giant and Regular), making him the most decorated rider in the event. Stefan Baumeister (GER), Mirko Felicetti (ITA), Oskar Kwiatkowski (POL), Sangkyum Kim (KOR), and other returning Olympians fill out an extremely competitive field this year. Veteran rider Robert Burns (USA) is backed up by young-gun Cody Winters (USA), providing the U.S.with the chance to medal for the first time in this event.
Team USA wasn’t able to field any riders this year but there are plenty of international racers worth watching. Canada has three entrants who are all World Cup competitors with quick feet and the speed to make a podium showing. Gold medalist Patrizia Kummer, along with two-time Olympians Ladina Jenny and Julie Zogg, give Switzerland the experience to make a strong run towards the podium. Austrian Julia Dujmovits is back in the mix this year hoping to add to the gold medal she already has in PGS. There are many other experienced European riders who not only want medals but the bragging rights that come with being the fastest racers on Earth.
Snowboard Cross (Boardercross)
Boardercross is a highly entertaining combination of racing and jumps. After the seeding rounds, runs will consist of six riders battling it out on the course at the same time. There are no lanes that riders must stay within, and the result is a free-for-all sprint to the bottom. Not only do contestants have to negotiate banked turns and hectic switchbacks, but there are also jumps that can induce chaos along the course. With half a dozen riders negotiating a tight track, these races are anyone’s game.
New to these Olympic Games is the mixed-team event which pits co-ed teams from each country against one another. This additional event increases the medal potential and might be the deciding factor in which country walks away with the most medals.
For Team USA, the big story is the return of Lindsay Jacobellis. A 10-time X Games Champion who holds an Olympic silver, Lindsay joins snowboarder Kelly Clark as the only two U.S. women ever to compete in five Winter Olympics. After rehabbing multiple injuries over the years, Jacobellis is laser-focused on putting an exclamation point on the end of her competitive career.
On the Men’s side, Team USA is tied with France for gold Medals in the event. While the U.S. does not have any medalists returning, Nick Baumgartner (USA) and Alex Deibold (USA) are the veterans with enough experience to conquer the podium. Be on the lookout for Loan Bozzolo (FRA) and Merlin Surget (FRA), returning Olympians who do not want Team USA to pull ahead in the count.
Check NBC for the airing times.
- Women's Slopestyle (Feb. 5-6)
- Men's Slopestyle (Feb. 6-7)
- Women's Parallel Giant Slalom (Feb. 8)
- Men's Parallel Giant Slalom (Feb. 8)
- Women's Snowboard Cross (Feb. 9)
- Women's Halfpipe (Feb. 9-10)
- Men's Snowboard Cross (Feb. 10)
- Men's Halfpipe (Feb. 9, 11)
- Mixed Team Snowboard Cross (Feb. 12)
- Women's Big Air (Feb. 14-15)
- Men's Big Air (Feb. 14-15
Team USA Roster
- Zoe Kalapos
- Chloe Kim
- Maddie Mastro
- Tessa Maud
- Lucas Foster
- Taylor Gold
- Joey Chase
- Shaun White
- Jamie Anderson
- Hailey Langland
- Julia Marino
- Courtney Rummel
- Chris Corning
- Sean FitzSimons
- Red Gerard
- Dusty Henricksen
- Stacy Gaskill
- Faye Gulini
- Lindsey Jacobellis
- Meghan Tierney
- Alex Deibold
- Mick Dierdorff
- Hagen Kearney
- Nick Baumgartner
Parallel Giant Slalom
- Robby Burns
- Cody Winters
The Bottom Line
Nothing stokes national pride like Olympic competition! No matter where you are from or where you reside, it’s fun to root for your favorite nation’s riders. Snowboarding has grown to the point of having 11 events in the Olympics and that’s reason enough to celebrate.
Between qualifying rounds, seeding rounds, and finals for each event, there’s plenty of snowboarding action to watch, beginning February 5th with Women’s Slopestyle and ending on the 16th with Men’s Big Air finals. You can tune in each day to see the latest action on NBC. Fair warning, Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so bust out the calculator and Red Bull to make sure you’re tuned in at the right time.
If you miss any action, we’ll be back after the games with an extensive recap so that you can prioritize the YouTube replays. We’ll also analyze the boards and gear that athletes rode to victory.
If you’re interested in learning about the snowboarding gear that could get you to the Olympics, or just want to improve the setup you’re currently riding, chat with one of the Snowboard Experts on Curated, and we’ll make you feel like a gold medalist!