[splitpost intro="true" position="both"]

Between the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and the current goings-on in Sochi, the number of Team GB riders in the freestyle disciplines has risen from one to six. Back then halfpipe was the only option (we now have slopestyle as well), and Lesley McKenna was the only one flying the flag for the UK. She went on to compete in two more games and inspire other British riders in the process, so it's in no small way thanks to her that Team GB's current contingent is so strong.

Lesley McKenna

This year, there will be six nations with only one freestyler in attendance at the games. Yes, most will be travelling with a larger delegation from across all winter sports, and there may even be some other snowboarders with them who'll trot out for the racing events. But when it comes to freestyle, these guys are their country's only hope.

[part title="Seppe Smits (Belgium)"]

Seppe Smits

The only Belgian snowboarder of any discipline to qualify, Seppe Smits is getting his runs down on Sochi's slopestyle course as we speak.

He's known for favouring flat spins over double or triple corks, which he would argue are actually harder to do. The judges don't always agree though; at the 2011 Billabong Air & Style he stomped the first ever cab 1440, and STILL didn't take the win!

Only a fool wouldn't consider him a medal contender. He certainly goes big, and from what we've heard of the kicker setup it could be a good fit for his style.

[part title="Sarka Pancochova (Czech Republic)"]

Sarka Pancochova

Sarka Pancochova was also the Czech Republic's only halfpipe snowboarder at Vancouver 2010, where she placed 14th. She's now moved over to her slopestyle, her preferred discipline and one in which she's bagged some great results. In the 2012/13 season she was the TTR Overall World Tour and Slopestyle World Tour Champion, and she'll be gunning for the gold in Sochi - so be sure to Czech her out.

[part title="Queralt Castallet (Spain)"]

Queralt Castellet. Photo: Red Bull

Like the UK, Spain took three riders to the 2006 Olympic halfpipe, one of which was Queralt Castallet. She also made it to Vancouver in 2010 and was on fire in the heats, qualifying in third place. Unfortunately she suffered a concussion in practice before the final got underway, and so did not start. She's back for her third games, and has a frontside 1080 in her bag of tricks that could see secure a medal for Spain.

[part title="Seamus O'Connor (Ireland)"]

OK, so Seamus O’Connor isn't actually from Ireland, but the San Diego native has plenty of the blood of the Emerald Isle flowing through his veins; and according to Henry Jackson, "his dad sounds like Father Ted".

The teenager has competed since he was four years old, winning the groms category in the 2011 World Rookie Fest as well as the Burton European Open junior pipe title. His efforts on the FIS circuit have made him eligible for both halfpipe and slopestyle, so we'll see plenty of Seamus at these games - and, if all goes to plan, the next ones too.

[part title="Morena Makar (Croatia)"]

Morena Makar

Morena MAKAR (CRO)

Morena Makar will be Croatia's first freestyle Olympic snowboarder, after qualifying for both the halfpipe and slopestyle.

She lists Shaun White and Roger Federer among her heroes, so she's clearly got a thing for competitive dominance. Her results to date mean that she's unlikely to be leaving Sochi with a medal, but she'll no doubt give both events all she's got. Plus she's getting snowboarding noticed in her home country - check out the interview below (if you understand Croatian).

[part title="Johannes Höpfl (Germany)"]

Johannes Höpfl

Aged just 18, Johannes Höpfl's best results so far have come at the Youth Winter Olympics and the FIS Junior World Championships. Taking on the big boys isn't going to be easy, but Germany is traditionally one of the most successful nations at the Winter Olympics - and Johannes will be 'Höpfl' that he can continue the tradition.