X Games Norway 2017: Snowboarders to watch
As X Games Norway approaches we take a look at some of the medal contenders in men's and women's Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle, starting with this guy right here. Sweden's Sven Thorgren hasn't graced an X Games podium since his bronze-medal finish in Slopestyle at X Games Aspen 2015, but the 2016 Air + Style overall tour champion and Snowboarder Magazine's Superpark 2016 Standout award winner is a contender for gold in every contest he enters.
All eyes will be on hometown hero Marcus Kleveland at X Games Norway 2017, who has had an incredible breakout season. The Snowboarder Magazine 2017 Rookie of the Year not only finished the Air + Style big air tour as the overall champion, at X Games Aspen 2017 he became the first snowboarder to stomp a quad cork in competition -- a backside quad cork 1800 mute, to be exact. He then followed up his Big Air feat with a gold medal in Snowboard Slopestyle. Kleveland is the first Norwegian to win gold in Men's Snowboard Slopestyle since Andreas Wiig did it in 2008.
Sixteen-year-old Hailey Langland became the new face of women's snowboarding when she took X Games Big Air gold at XG Aspen 2017 with a women's competition-first Cab double cork 1080. The win was not a fluke. She also has a bronze medal in Slopestyle from XG Aspen 2016.
Ever since he took double gold in X Games Slopestyle and Big Air in 2012, Mark McMorris has been one of snowboarding's brightest stars. He repeated the feat in 2015, becoming the second snowboarder in history to earn double gold at a single event twice. In 2016 he defended his Slope gold with the first run to include back-to-back triple corks, and took the silver in Big Air to boot. McMorris broke his right femur at the L.A. Air + Style in February 2016, but his comeback has been triumphant: He made the podium at five of the six competitions leading into X Games Aspen 2017 and ended XG with double bronze in Big Air and Slopestyle.
Nineteen-year-old Julia Mariano took the competition world by storm when she entered X Games Aspen 2017 as a rookie and came away with a bronze medal in Big Air and beat out a field of seasoned vets to take Slopestyle gold. Her rails were technical, she spun her jumps in three different directions and she stomped a huge Cab double underflip on her way to the podium. The exciting rematch between Mariano, Anna Gasser, Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland in Slopestyle at X Games Norway should be fierce.
Norway's own Ståle Sandbech has been on the mend, coming back from three knee surgeries -- on his right and left in May 2016, and another on his left in November 2016 -- to compete this season. At X Games Aspen 2017 he claimed to be 100 percent. "I just need to get my head and body used to flipping and spinning again," he said. He finished fourth in Slopestyle with a strong run that included a backside triple cork 1440. With the home court advantage, he is a likely contender for a podium in Norway.
In her first seven contest starts of the season Anna Gasser took first or second place, including her silver in Big Air at X Games Aspen 2017. Her money trick is a Cab double underflip, which helped her podium in XG Aspen Big Air. Unfortunately she fell on both of her attempts of the trick in Slopestyle and ended up in eight place. Look for her to rebate in Norway.
With two gold medals in less than 24 hours at XG Aspen 2014, Parrot became only the second man to win both Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle at the same X Games. He then added to his Big Air medal counts with a silver in 2015, gold at XG Aspen 2016, silver at XG Oslo 2016, and gold again at XG Aspen 2017 with a competition-first quad underflip. Though he hasn't podiumed in Slopestyle since 2014, he is always a heavy contender for a medal in both disciplines.
Jamie Anderson is the most decorated rider in X Games Slopestyle history, with 12 medals, including four gold. Slopestyle's first-ever female Olympic gold medalist hasn't won gold in X Games Slopestyle since 2013, but she's never failed to make the podium.
This ripping Norwegian made his X Games debut at Aspen in 2016, taking bronze in Slopestyle. Røisland has at least three versions of the triple cork in his bag of tricks. He trains with the Norwegian national team alongside Ståle Sandbech and Aleksander Oestreng, and is always a contender for a Slopestyle podium.
Thirty-two-year-old X Games veteran Cheryl Maas took Big Air gold at X Games Oslo 2016, becoming the first Dutch woman ever to medal at an X Games. Maas holds the distinction of being first woman to land both a 900 and a switch 900 in a slopestyle competition and continues to push the sport to this day. Maas resides in Oslo, Norway with her wife, former X Games gold medalist Stine Brun Kjeldaas, and their two kids. She will be defending her Big Air gold at X Games Norway 2017 in front of her adopted home-town crowd.
Five-time X Games Big Air and Slopestyle medalist and Real Snow 2015 Fan Favorite, Sebastian Toutant, started his 2017 season strong with podiums at the Beijing Air + Style and Winter Dew Tour. The X Games Aspen 2016 Slopestyle silver medalist just missed the podium in 2017, but he's always a contender for the top spot.
Silje Norendal won her third straight Slopestyle gold at X Games Aspen 2015, becoming one of the most dominant competitors in women's snowboarding. The Norwegian favorite hasn't graced an X Games podium in a two years, but don't count her out just yet. She'll be dropping in on both the Big Air jump and Slopestyle course at XG Norway.