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top 50 snowboarders to watch this year

Winter is on its way and with Sochi 2014 fast approaching, it's going to be a big one for snowboarding. What with slopestyle on the Olympic agenda for the first time, we're predicting that snowboarding - and snowboarders - will be hitting the headlines in a big way. But which ones? Well, if you're stuck like a squirrel in a nut factory and don't know where to look, here are our pointers for the top 50 snowboarders to watch out for this year. These are the 50 guys and gals who'll be slap bang in the middle of the media spotlight.

The list is probably slightly Brit biased (so shoot us, we love our homegrown talent), and it's definitely a little more focussed on competition riders than it would be normally. But what with all the silverware up for grabs in Russia, it's a big time for those who ply their trade on the competition circuit. Of course contest success is not the only criteria here.

We've also looked at who's likely to be getting big parts in this season's major movie releases and who's bagged the banger still shots from last winter (which will make up the majority of this season's magazine covers and coverage). We've also just looked at who's killed it of late, and who's career is on an upwards trajectory - we think you'll find there's a few surprises in the list.

We're sure you'll disagree with some of these rankings, and we'd love to hear your thoughts too, so please let us know in the comments.

[part title='Ethan Deiss']

ethan deiss

Ethan Deiss is Burton's up and coming young jib wizard. If you're an avid reader, you'll probably know that we chat about him at every chance we get. Breaking into the scene in 2008/09 off the back of a ridiculously impressive sponsor me tape he was snapped up by Burton who stuck him straight on their international team. And no wonder, because Ethan's jib game is about as on point as it gets.

Considering how well Ethan makes use of even this super simple park at his home resort of Trollhaugen, we're pretty excited about seeing his part in Burton's [Snowboarding] movie. It's sure to garner him a fair bit of attention.:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqUxdPzK8Pk

[part title='Enni Rukajarvi']

enni rukajarvi

Enni Rukajärvi was born in Kuusamo in Ruka, Finland. She started skiing at the age of six and soon got a feel for the mountain lifestyle. By the age of 10 she’d thrown her skis in the bin and very sensibly picked up a snowboard.

This year she could well be a contender for the top Olympic medal, with slopestyle golds under her belt at both Winter X and FIS events. Her video parts are pretty slick too, and we can't wait to see her in the Burton [Snowboarding] ladies section.

[part title='Louie Vito']

Louie Vito

Ohio isn’t known for its snowboard resorts but that hasn’t stopped Louie Vito from becoming a world class halfpipe rider. Studying at a snowboard school in Vermont, Louie spent his youth snowboarding and travelling to competitions. All his hard work in the park paid off and Louie now has several US grand prix titles, four X Games medals, two dew tour overall champion places and 5th place in the 2010 Olympic halfpipe under his belt.

Vito is always going to be big name come the Sochi games, his winning run from Tignes was sick. You've got to rate him for always being smiley and good on camera too - maybe that's why they picked him to compete on Dancing with the Stars...

[part title='Terje Haakonsen']

Photo: Jeff Curtes

The man, the myth, the legend. Many words have been written about Mr Håkonsen/Haakonsen (depending on how well you know your keyboard) since he first made his mark, dropping into the Stratton Mountain Halfpipe on a cold winter's morning for Burton US Open in 1990. Unhappy with the role taken by the FIS ski federation, he famously boycotted the first Olympic snowboarding contest in 1998 when most people thought he was a shoe-in for the gold. In the eyes of many this made him (as one particular Burton ad campaign had it) "snowboarding's conscience". He's still an outspoken campaigner about the issue, and we're sure he'll be the go to man for quotes about any FIS/WST controversy this season. Added bonus, he's in the Jake Blauvelt movie, and Burton's [Snowboarding] too.

Here's a Terje Classic- First Decent:

[part title='Katie Ormerod']

KatieOrmerod_Gerlos_AY1Q5248_MattGEORGES

The future’s bright for Team GB rider Katie Ormerod. At the tender age of 16 not only is she one of the best British female snowboarders, she’s also one of the most exciting up-and-coming female snowboarders anywhere in the world. She surprised everyone (except those already in the know) by landing in 10th place at the FIS World Snowboard Championships in Quebec and also became the 5th woman to have landed a double backie... ever:

[part title='Marcus Kleveland']

marcus kleveland

Norwegian Marcus Kleveland has has double corks on lock since he was 11 and has been making waves on the competition circuit, winning this years junior event at the Burton European Open. He's now 13, and we're expecting him to be a force in slopestyle proper very soon...

Oh did we mention he's already got a Backside Triple 1440?

[part title='Kelly Clark']

Kelly Clark

This Mount Snow Academy, Vermont graduate has stomped her mark on the competitive scene since 2001. She claimed a convincing win in halfpipe at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games and hasn’t let her amplitude drop since. In the last few years she's dominated women's halfpipe contests in a way that no competitive snowboarder - male or female - has done before or since.

However, despite the fact that Kelly pretty much untouchable in most pipe comps she missed out on Olympic gold twice since 2002 - to Hannah Teter in 2006, and Torah Bright in 2010. No doubt she'll be looking to avenge her defeat this winter, although as a committed evangelical Christian (with Jesus stickers on her board) we're sure she'd never use that language. Watch her beat Arielle Gold and Elena Hight in Tignes earlier this year:

[part title='Red Gerard']

red gerard

We definitely haven't been short of grom talent of late, but Red Gerard is leading the charge. First appearing on our radar in a Burton Youth Team edit at the beginning of last season and popping up in edits throughout the year, 12 year old Red is absolutely killing right now.

If you haven't seen it yet check his full part below and share in the stoke:

[part title='Peetu Piiroinen']

peetu piiroinen profile pic

Peetu Piiroinen is shit hot at snowboarding. He’s been the number one rider on the TTR (or WST) world tour and the Burton Global Open Series for four consecutive years and at the age of 22 he won a silver medal in halfpipe at the Vancouver Olympic games.

Peetu is one of a very few riders competing in both slopestyle & halfpipe in FIS comps and still manages to dominate in both. We'll be interested to see if he goes for the double in Sochi.

This is how he won the world snowboard tour:

[part title='Torah Bright']

torah bright

Coming from a family of alpine prestige, the Bright family up-rooted from their hometown in Australia in 2000 so that the Bright dynasty could be nearer to the steep terrain of Utah to train. The gamble paid off for Torah when in 2003, she was the runner up for the world cup title in halfpipe.

In 2006, she finished fifth at the Turin Olympics - a result that many (including Torah herself) felt was unfairly harsh given her supremely technical run. She righted this wrong by absolutely smashing it in 2010, and is aiming to compete in both pipe and slopestyle in Sochi. We wouldn't count against her doing it either.

[part title='Louif Paradis']

louif paradis headshot

Louif Paradis is part of a new generation of Canadian rail riders who can shred any urban feature out there. Born in Quebec, Louif grew up riding the streets. Since then he's won the X Games Real Snow video competition in 2012 and has been a runner up in 2011 and 2013. In 2013 he also took victory at the X Games snowboard street event.

Check the rail hand-drag in this Deja Vu Spotlight:

[part title='Elena Hight']

Elena Hight posing for a photoshoot - Photo: Harry How

In her early twenties Elena Hight is already a two-time Olympian in snowboard halfpipe. In 2002, and at the tender age of 13, she was the first woman to land a 900 in competition. More recently, in 2013, she became the first snowboarder to land a double cork (OK so technically it was a backside alley-oop rodeo, but basically the same thing) in competition at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

Needless to say, getting her kit off for ESPN's body issue isn't the only reason she's made the news recently, and we're sure if she's riding anything like this she'll continue to do so this season:

[part title='Aimee Fuller']

AimeeFuller_Gerlos_IMG_1013VTG2_MattGEORGESedited

The third wave of British talent to make its assault on the international scene, under the tutorage of Lesley McKenna and under the wing of Jenny Jones, Aimee has been thrashing competitions, mag trips and hairbrushes since 2005.

She was the first woman to land a double backflip in competition earlier this year and has cab underflips on lock, and is another British Olympic slopestyle hopeful- check it:

[part title='Will Smith']

Will Smith was there repping it for ol' Blighty

UK shredder Will Smith has had a great year so far. The Leeds lad has been out with Postland Theory having met the Dutch crew at Rock and Rail in The Hague; and he's now set to feature in their full movie Periscoping. Will's also been filming for the Grindhouse flick 'Mind Games' all over Iceland, Finland and the US, and word on the street is his part is an absolute banger. Here's the trailer: http://vimeo.com/68561495

[part title='Scott Stevens']

scott stevens mike yoshida

Scott Stevens rides with a style like no other, and his creativity on a snowboard knows no boundaries. Known for being the snowboard equivalent of skateboarder Rodney Mullen, Scott sees snowboarding in a completely different way to most other riders. As well as his famous one-foot tricks, Scott just has an eye for an interesting obstacle, which means his video parts (like the one below from Hungry) are always worth watching. We're sure this season's will be no exception.

[part title='Spencer O’Brien']

Spencer O'Brien

Spencer O’Brien is one of the best female snowboarders on the planet. Growing up in the mountains of BC, she was taught how to snowboard by her sister and dad and has since gone on to international snowboard stardom. In 2013 she won two of snowboarding's biggest prizes - the slopestyle competition at the WST World Snowboarding Championship in Oslo and the Burton US Open. A gold medal contender, we reckon Spencer is gonna kill it this year, and Canada has high hopes of her taking the gold in slopestyle. Check out what she's capable of here:

[part title='Chas Guldemond']

chas guldemond

Chas Guldemond AKA Chuck G, AKA one of the nicest men in snowboarding. He’s had a long career riding in contests as well as filming for Standard Films, DC Snowboarding's own projects and his Rockstar Energy-sponsored series. He's also the owner of one of the best looking methods in the game. Oh, and being the Slopestyle World Snowboard Champion… Chas is always a contender in slopestyle, as he proved by taking the WST World Snowboarding Championship title in Oslo two years ago. We wouldn't bet against him doing the same thing in Sochi. He's also one of the main people behind 'We Are Snowboarding' so we're pretty sure he'll be asked to give his opinion on the FIS at some point too...

[part title='Helen Schettini']

helen

Whistler local and backcountry killer Helen Schettini has been shredding the deep stuff for the best part of 7 years now. Riding comps as a teenager, she picked up a snowmobile after spending some time out due to injury and hasn't looked back. This could well be Helen's breakout year. She's signed to Adidas, has her own 'Hel of a Time' webisodes and will be riding backcountry with the Yes crew for their 'Missions' web series. Watch the first of the Hel of a Time webisodes here:

[part title='Eero Ettala']

Eero Ettala

Eero has to be one of the most versatile snowboarders in the world right now. As comfortable in the sub-arctic conditions of Helsinki scoping rails, as he is carving tits-deep powder in Japan, or throwing the worlds first double rodeo 1080 (a trick that defied physics, gravity and the concept of spinning off-axis), he's equally at home on a skateboard in the summer. Basically, Eero is the man. Already out this year, his Cooking with Gas full part is bolts. Check the switch double backie over a skate bowl - whaaat...?!

[part title='Stale Sandbech']

Stale Sandbech

Another shredding wünderkid from Norway. Still a tender 20 years young, Stale pillages the prize purses of World Snowboard Tour events across the world in much the same way as his Viking ancestors pillaged English towns and villages. Part of the suitably menacing Norwegian Olympic team, he's definitely one to watch come Olympics time. Watch him take 3rd Place at Air and Style Beijing:

[part title='Jenny Jones']

Jenny-Jones-X-Games-Gold-Flash

Jenny Jones is surely the (shred) nation's sweetheart in the UK, and is our most successful competitive snowboarder ever. The Bristol-born three times X Games Gold medal winner has something of a fairy tale backstory, starting out as a chalet maid at the age of 18. In fact, when that film Chalet Girl came out a couple of years back, there were rumours they'd based the plot on her career. Having struggled with injury when she was first invited to the X games at 21, Jenny's recovery and achievements in slopestyle have been the pride of the British snowboard scene ever since and she's more than made her mark on the international stage.

Jenny took 2nd at NZ Olympic World Cup recently, losing out only to Jamie Anderson, and is looking like a strong medal hope at her first Olympic games.

[part title='Kazuhiro Kokubo']

Snow_Kazu_Kokubo_02 copy

When most of us were knee-nippers, it probably took a fair amount of convincing, screaming and cajoling to get the parents outta bed and onto the hill. Not for Kazu, who's Dad was usually leading the charge across the mountain dragging him along for the ride. Quickly adapting his riding style to the terrain, the young samurai spent his time hitting the pillow lines and backcountry faces of Asari, without a park or pipe in sight. This makes it all the more impressive that he subsequently went on to become one of the world's finest halfpipe riders, winning the US Open in 2010 and 2011. At the same time, his major sponsor Burton supported him in his various film projects and he went on to play a starring role in movies like 'The B' and 'Standing Sideways'.

This year Kazu switched sponsors to sign for Capita and Adidas and will feature in 'Naturally'. He's also been backing Ayumu Hirano and supporting his rise to the top. Watch Capita welcoming him to the team here:

[part title='Jamie Anderson']

Jamie Anderson

At the age of fifteen Jamie Anderson knocked Shaun White out of the history books as the youngest X games medallist in history. She's still very young but is already something of a competition veteran with six X Games medal wins, two Dew Tour championship titles and an overall first place in both the 2008/09 TTR Championship and the Burton Global Open Series.

It's easy to forget that even after all of that she's now only 22! When it comes to women's slopestyle Jamie's about as big a name as they get, and barring an injury, the young American will start the Sochi games as the favourite. Watch her winning run at burton open in 2012:

[part title='Arthur Longo']

arthur longo thomas copsey

French rider 24 year-old Arthur Longo could well be a contender in this year's halfpipe at the Olympics. Originally from Les Deux Alps, Longo had drifted away from pipe riding, but is coming back to it with a renewed focus as the Olympics approaches. With a list of accomplishments including several Pirate Productions film parts and victory at the Arctic Challenge in 2009, Arthur also took 2nd at the X Games in Tignes earlier this year. Watch his run below:

[part title='Mark Sollors']

Mark-Sollors-moustache-movember-Norwegian-bomb-shelter-gap-jump-snowboarding-burton

This isn’t just any snowboarder. This is an M&S snowboarder. With an ability to send it in the backcountry, and on rails, Mark can pretty much destroy any terrain in his path. Despite his relative youth, he's already put his stamp on snowboarding through some rad video parts, including his incredible breakout part in Transworld's 'In Color' from 2010, which won the magazine's 'Rookie of the Year award'. Check out his 'Standing Sideways' part below and watch out for him in the Burton [Snowboarding] film this year.

[part title='Scotty Lago']

scottylago

Scotty Lago started out on a snowboard back in 1996 at the age of 9 in his hometown of Amesbury, Massachusetts, on a hill designed for tubing. He soon traded the gentle inclines of small kids in blow up rings for the 22ft ice walls of the halfpipe. He proved himself a dab-hand at the ‘hurling yourself at a curved wall of snow and go really high’ game otherwise known as the quarterpipe by winning the World Championships in 2004, and has enjoyed a string of competitive successes since. At the same time, he's put out banging video parts - not least his impressive sections in the Travis Rice mega-movie 'The Art of Flight'. Scott will be aiming to make the US team for Sochi in Sochi and with a bronze from Vancouver he's a highly credible threat. Watch him take 3rd at the US open earlier this year:

[part title='Jamie Nicholls']

Jamie Nicholls

Pegged as "the future of British snowboarding" since he was still in single digits of age, this young Yorkshireman has gone from strength to strength over the intervening years. Lapping the dryslope since the age of 8, he made waves on AIM Orange Series. Big enough waves to attract his Salomon team-mate (and global superstar) David Benedek t’up North to come and film with him in Halifax for the 2007 film ‘In Short’. One of the few Brits to have made it into the big leagues, Jamie has been cleaning up in rail comps of late, beating the world's best in Tokyo in 2012 before finishing 2nd there last year.He's also one of our Olympic slopestyle hopefuls for this year. The Americans might not understand him, but we do...

Roope Tonteri

Roope Tonteri honed his freestyle skills riding the bullet proof parks of Finland. From humble beginnings in his local village of Kouvola, Roope is now at home on the international snowboard circuit where he recently won gold in both slopestyle and big air at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championship. He's currently recovering from a broken humerus but we're hoping Roope makes a speedy recovery for the Olympics. Not only does his riding stand out in an era of clone-stamped contest robots, but his off-the-hill behaviour is reminiscent of the old school style of hell-raising comp riders. Even in a video that is essentially a Nokia advert he's pretty rad:

[part title='Victor de le Rue']

victor de la rue

He's the younger brother to Xavier, so clearly talent runs in the De Le Rue family! Victor has concentrated largely on freestyle in the past, but like his older brother he's more than capable of tackling a gnarly pow line, and has increasingly been moving into the backcountry of late.

Rumour has it that Victor has a killer part in Absinthe Films' Dopamine this year and there have been next level shots of him flying around this summer. If it's anything like this Alive & Kickin Part, we're gonna love it:

[part title='Seb Toots']

Seb Toots Cap Flash

Canadian Sebastien Toutant exploded onto the snowboard scene as a 16-year-old prodigy in 2009. This was back when double corks were a relative rarity, and Seb, with his signature Tootsie Roll on lock, cleaned up in comps. In 2011 became only the third person to land a triple cork. In the same year he also won gold in X Games slopestyle and silver in big air, not bad eh? The Canuck now has two gold medals in slopestyle having won again this year in Tignes, we're not convinced that'll be enough for Toots though, and he'll definitely be going for a medal in Sochi. At the same time, Seb kills it in the streets and has put out a string of ridiculously technical rail parts over the years. We're expecting more of the same will be getting him his fair share of attention in 2013-14.

[part title='Ethan Morgan']

WELCOM-ETHAN1

Having survived contact with the concrete corner in Never Not's Slam City, German Ethan Morgan lives to ride again. Probably the highest profile German rider since David Benedek, Ethan's video parts are sick, and he's damn decent competition rider too. How many other people do you know who can throw a switch back rodeo into a slopestyle run? This year, as well as appearing in the full length Nike movie Never Not, we'll see him in We Out There, his film with Mario Kaepelli and Flo Corzelius. He'll also be heading to Sochi to compete for Deutschland in slopestyle too.

[part title='Nicolas Muller']

Nicolas Müller

No list of snowboarders worth watching would be complete without Nicolas Müller. The man is a true snowboarding legend. Starting his career in the halfpipe, he's now world renowned for his original approach to backcountry riding. You only to have to watch one of his countless video parts to understand why the man is in pretty much every snowboarders top five riders of all time. Some may be surprised to see him as low down the list as number 19, but although he's featuring in Nike's Never Not and has a part in Burton's [Snowboarding] this winter, he won't be in the Absinthe movie for the first time in years. But he was always going to make the top 20 regardless... I c'mon, he's Müller!

[part title='Xavier de le Rue']

xavier head shot

Xavier De Le Rue is not just a snowboarder, he's an explorer. He loves nothing more than heading out into the back of beyond with only his splitboard, ropes and crampons for company. A true mountain lover whose passion for powder has achieved world wide recognition, he's managed the tricky feat of forging a successful career in freeriding, the least-marketable of snowboarding disciplines. The fact that he's so high profile is testament to his ability - he's widely recognised as one of - if not the - greatest freerider on the planet, having won the snowboard freeride world tour three times in a row, and put out countless jaw-dropping video parts. He’s also been awarded the 'best line' of the freeride world tour twice. This year he's been exploring Antarctica for his latest movie project, and in the process riding some of the steepest lines we think we've ever seen, how crazy does this look?

[part title='Travis Rice']

Travis-Rice-Caption-Comp-Whitelines

Travis Rice isn’t so much rewriting the snowboarding rule book as covering it in petrol, setting it ablaze and pissing on the ashes. Born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming Travis spent his early years out on the mountain with his father who worked for ski patrol. This mountain experience rubbed off on young Travis who is now considered one of the best all round snowboarders ever. He’s won over thirty titles in over 12 years of competition experience, made two of the biggest snowboard movies ever in his own image (That's It, That's All and The Art of Flight) and released consistently insane parts in other people's films year after year. Oh and he's also on a mission to redefine what competitive snowboarding means with his 'natural' series, of backcountry freestyle comps. We don't have to justify why Travis is in our Top 50.

In fact many of you will probably be surprised to see he's not in the top 10 of this list. In any other recent year he would have been. But for the first time in ages, we're not sure if there's going to be a big Travis "project" this winter. We're not even sure if there's going to be another edition of the 'natural' series. If anyone can think of the next step after 'super' then 'ultra' natural we'd love to hear it! But while he may be more quiet than normal this year, he's still the man. Here's his breakout part in Absinthe's Transcendence for proof. It's from 2001, so he was 18 when he filmed this. 18 ffs!

[part title='Bode Merrill']

bode merrill

Bode Merrill is one of the best all round snowboarders in the game. Breaking onto the international scene with a big bang, Bode earned himself the closing part in his first ever Absinthe movie Neverland. He was already a well-rounded rider then, destroying street rails and powder kickers alike, and he's simply improved with each passing year.

This season, we're betting that this modest American will have another hammer of an Absinthe part in their latest release, Dopamine. He's also the cover star on the October issue of Whitelines, in which he has a full-length interview. Unfortunately we haven't got a trailer for this year's Absinthe movie yet but we do have Bode's 'B-Roll' footage which is rad enough (if you don't mind Blink 182).

[part title='Fredi K']

fredi-kalbermatten-view-from-quiet

Having been dropped by his long-time sponsor Burton, few would have blamedSwiss shredder and DJ Frederik Kalbermatten (AKA Fredi K) for going into semi-retirement in his home resort of Saas Fee. But while he had a couple of quiet seasons, recently Fredi has come back with a vengeance with a hammer part in Standard Films 2112 and an insane X Games Real Snow Backcountry section (below).

This winter he'll feature in Jake Blauvelt's 'Naturally' (rumour has it that his contributions are insane!) as well 'Livin' alongside Top 50 neighbour Shayne Pospisil. Apparently he's become one of Jake's favourite ever riding buddies, and if that's not a ringing endorsement, coming as it does from a man who hangs out with the Jackson brothers, Terje and Travis, then I don't know what is!

[part title='Shayne Pospisil']

shayne posposil

Multi-talented, New Jersey born Shayne Pospisil started out as competitive surfer; and although he's still recognised across the snow, skate and surf disciplines it was snowboarding that has really put him on the map. He's competed with and defeated massive names including Travis Rice, Bjorn Leines and Shaun White, but has never quite broken into the big time. That may be about to change.

Having largely moved away from competitions, this year Shayne will feature in Naturally movie, having been asked along personally by his childhood friend Jake Blauvelt. According to Jake, Shayne's part is going to really open people's eyes to what an incredible rider he is. Pospisil also has a a part in the first offering from WillFilmForFood’s Aaron Hooper, Livin.

[part title='Jed Anderson']

120203-jed-anderson-092-2

Jed Anderson is something of a snowboarding prodigy. Starting his career on the Forum Youngblood team, contests and travel were a part of Jed’s life as a teenager. That is until he did something surprising and took a step back from professional snowboarding. A few years riding outside of the industry spotlight helped Jed fall back in love with the sport, and he returned albeit with a changed focus, spending most of his time riding the streets of his hometown Calgary.

Soon enough his skinny pants style and his big bag of ridculo-tech rail tricks began to attract attention and sponsors, including Nike. This season he'll be playing a starring role in their movie Never Not, as well as releasing a full part online before Christmas. If it's anything like as good as this one from last season, it'll more than merit his ranking at number 13.

[part title='Eric Jackson']

eric-jackson-full-part-people-good-look-remix

Eric Jackson is an incredibly talented snowboarder, but for one reason or another (a lot of them to do with sponsorship) he spent much of his career labouring somewhat in the shadow of his older brother John. All this changed in 2011-12, when an incredible video part won him the Transworld rider of the year, and propelled him into the proper big leagues.

When Adidas decided to start putting together a snowboard team (with a bit of help from Jake Baluvelt) Eric was apparently one of the first people they called. The beard-growing Californian has already featured in Jake Blauvelt's Adidas introduction, and we can only assume that his own mini-movie is on the way. Jackson's all tied up in Naturally too and on his current form you'd be a fool not to watch this space:

[part title='Louri Podladchikov']

Iouri Podladtchikov

The halfpipe dominator from the eastern-bloc was born in Russia before moving to Zurich with his parents as a youngster. His technique is the ideal style for the icy curved walls of the pipe. Educated at Switzerland’s first sports high school/college, he gave his teachers a schooling at the age of 18 in Davos’ very own halfpipe for the O’Neill Evolution, taking home the top spot at his first 6 Star WST event.

Interestingly I-Pod (as he's commonly known) competed for Russia in his first Olympics in 2006, before using his dual nationality to ride for Switzerland in 2010. However he told us recently that while he feels Swiss and appreciates the superior support that the Swiss team offers, the Russians still see him very much as one of their own. When he competed in the warm up event in Sochi, apparently "it felt like having a home crowd, they went nuts!" No doubt he'll be taking full advantage of this come the Games, and having dropped a new trick -the 1440 Yolo flip - at X Games in Tignes he's more than capable of pulling trump cards out for the big occasions. Should Shaun White be looking over his shoulder? Quite possibly. We caught up with him Iouri earlier this year to talk about his new move.

Helmet or no helmet? That's the question. Mark McMorris here rockin' his. Photo: Aaron Dodds

[part title='Mark McMorris']

Mark McMorris has had a couple of very good seasons of late. The big air and slopestyle specialist was the first rider ever to land a backside triple cork 1440 and is the current reigning Winter X Games champion in slopestyle, having won the event for the last two years. He also beat Torstein Horgmo to take the US Open title earlier this year. Unsurprisingly he's going into this season as one of Canada's main hopes for Olympic gold, alongside his good friend (and fellow Canuck) Seb Toots, and on his current form, he's bound to start as bookies favourite. Not only that, but Mark has apparently hooked up with pro surfer Coco ho, which will give the mainstream media a perfect Posh & Becks-style 'super-couple' story should he do well.

As well as his Olympic endeavours, Mark will be featuring in the Burton [Snowboarding] movie(s) this year.

[part title='Ayumu Hirano']

ayumu-hirano-x-games-tignes

Japanese 14 year-old Ayumu Hirano's rise has been swift. Only two years ago he was poaching runs as a junior at the US Open aged 12. This year, thanks in part to ongoing support from his friend/mentor Kazu Kokubo, he took on the big guns and beat most of them, taking silver behind Shaun White at Winter X Games in Aspen with a flawless run!

[part title='Billy Morgan']

billy-morgan-copper-qualifier

Competitive UK snowboarding doesn't get much bigger than Billy Morgan right now. Even before he became an international Youtube star with his triple rodeo video Billy was firmly on the British scene's radar, having rocked up to the Brits and beaten 'the chosen one' Jamie Nicholls in the big air in 2010.

Earlier this year he became the first Brit to land a triple cork, with this backside triple 1440, and with a string of impressive Olympic qualification results (notably a 4th in Quebec and a 2nd in Sierra Nevada) Billy has all but qualified for the games. He's started this season equally well with two podium spots in an Australian WST comp in August: first place in big air and second in slopestyle against a strong field that contained Torstein Horgmo, Aleksander Ostreng, Emil Ulsletten and Stale Sandbech. Such is his current run of form that we wouldn't be against him not only going, but bringing back some silverware for blighty.

But Billy is no contest robot - he getting involved in crazy stunts and good parties, and if he does well, it'll be on his own terms. Have a look at how he's be preparing for this winter in the latest episode of Diaries Down Under to see what we mean. Or just marvel at this video of his slopestyle triple from Oz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sObhXrPVxVU

[part title='Halldor Helgason']

halldor-pirate-look

Halldor Helgason has to be one of the most entertaining snowboarders around. He's also, despite being just 22 one of the best known. A phenomenally talented rider (who won the X Games big air with a perfect score back in 2010) his currency has been further increased by the blog he and his brother Eiki set up, Helgasons.com, and their eyebrow raising antics. These have helped make the pair of them, but Halldor in particular, massive stars on both sides of the Atlantic.

It helps of course that he's prolific too. Already this year we've seen a hell of a mini-movie from Keystone (including the infamous Lobster flip at 5.48) and the entertaining triple jerk-off backflip attempts. Off the hill he and Eiki have capitalised on their reputations, helping to found no fewer than four brands (Lobster, Switchback, Hoppipolla and 7-9-13) and start their own film company. Despite the fact that he tends to focus on filming these days (and we'll sure he'll have a killer part once again this winter) we're pretty sure Halldor will also be heading to Sochi to compete in slopestyle. If he does, we're predicting he'll have a Heikki Sorsa moment, doing something slightly mental that'll stick in people's heads long after the memory of the medals has faded. Watch Halldor's (almost) quad backie and Sorsa's 2002 run below, see if you get what we mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRTWFssmCyM http://mpora.com/videos/AAddtfi1pecp

[part title='Silje Norendaal']

X Games Aspen 2013 - January 26, 2013

Norwegian Silje Norendaal is one impressive lady; and to be honest, even if she was only releasing a follow up to her video telling you what to pack when you go and shred, we'd probably watch it. But while her good looks won't have hurt her career, it's her ability to shred that has made her the star she is today. And with the Olympics just around the corner, she seems to be coming into the form of her life.

After a few years of being there or there abouts, Silje seriously stepped it up last season taking Euro X Games-Gold with a run that was simply untouchable. She literally left the likes of Spencer O’Brien, Kjersti Buaas and two-times X Games gold medallist Jamie Anderson for dust. If she can find that kind of form at the Olympics, don't bet against a fairy-tale finish with Silje taking the gold. We're also looking forward to her part in Nike's Never Not. Meanwhile, check the style on her frontside rodeo 7 in that winning run:

[part title='Markus Keller']

markus keller_luzern by lorenz richard

You can compete and win in international events, or even be named world champion (and Markus Keller has) but it's not too often that a lone rider inspires a movie project. Named after the Swiss rider's versatility as an all-rounder and incorporating his nickname; Volcom's ChaMäleon takes Markus (aka 'Mä') around the world to the meet specialists: Dan Brisse, Terje Haakonsen, Eero Ettala, and go toe-to-toe with them on their own turf.

Given that Volcom have dedicated movies to Gigi Rüf and Terje before, this is a pretty massive vote of confidence in a rider who, for a lot of snowboard fans at least, is still something of an unknown quantity. But such is Markus' quality in all terrain, that we're pretty sure he can justify the Stone's faith in him. He's definitely going to be big this year. Check out the trailer to see what we mean.

[part title='Gigi Rüf']

Whitelines-92-Gigi-Ruf

Gigi Ruf smashed it onto our screens in 2000 in the Kingpin Productions classic Destroyer which featured the slowest front 360 transfer the snowboarding community had seen. Over the next decade he put out a string of mind-blowing backcountry video parts for the Pirates, Absinthe Films, and a variety of other projects. Legendarily prolific, and with a habit of stomping things first time, he apparently has no problem logging enough footage to fill multiple movie segments year after year. After splitting first with Burton and then with his long-term sponsor Volcom to join Nike Snowboarding, Gigi recently set up his baord brand, Slash.

He's already had a great 2013, swiping Red Bull Ultra Natural title from under Travis' nose, and we've seen so many incredible photos of Gigi this summer - most from the filming of the Nike movie - that he could probably have six covers this season (if that wasn't a little bit greedy).

For that reason, we're looking forward to his part in Nike's Never Not almost more than anyone else's. In the meantime, here's his winning run from Baldface Lodge:

[part title='Torstein Horgmo']

torstein horgmo profile pic

Torstein's been one to watch for at least half a decade now, bursting onto the senior contest circuit by beating Travis Rice to a Winter X-Games Gold in 2008, and staying firmly put since. Last winter's 'Horgasm: A Love Story' was to be one of the most memorable films of the year and his online presence and regular shredits have helped the Norwegian's mass appeal.

As well as a string of seriously impressive video parts featuring street and backcountry sections, Torstein is a near-perfect park rider. He was the first person to land the triple cork, and this year cranked it up to 11 with a switch backside triple cork to win the X Games Big Air in Aspen. As well as his back to back perfect scores in X Games big air, Torstein's also got a seriously impressive slopestyle record, and is always a medal threat. We wouldn't be surprised if he took that to the slopestyle course in Sochi.

[part title='Jake Blauvelt']

Jake Blauvelt

It’s very easy to draw parallels between the late, great Mr Craig Kelly and Jake Blauvelt. Both rippers started out on the contest scene but at the height of their competitive careers, packed it in and for their true calling in the deep powder of the backcountry. Jake went from the icy parks of Vermont to the deep powder of Mount Baker and hasn't looked back since. A key member of the 'second wave' of Forum riders, he had a series of awesome video parts in films like That and Forum or Against 'em, before deciding that actually he wanted to go his own way. He sacked his agent and headed off to Costa Rica to surf for a few weeks before retuning and signing to Ride and Oakley. When Adidas were looking to start making snowboard boots, this free-spirited Mount Baker dweller was the man they asked to help them.

If you haven't seen it yet, their 'Welcome: Jake Blauvelt' teaser is a great recap of his career so far, a career that looks set to reach new heights with what looks likely to be one of this season's biggest releases, Naturally. The two-year project follows Jake around the world and features fellow Top 50-ers Eric Jackson, Kazuhiro Kokubo and Terje Haakonsen. If this doesn't make the man a superstar, then I'll eat my beanie.

[part title='Shaun White']

Shaun White Profile pic

Shaun White's trophy cabinet must be splitting at the seams. Two Olympic gold medals, 14 X Games wins, 6 dew tour gold medals and 8 US open first place podiums, not to mention a smattering of silvers and bronzes, makes this man the most successful competitive snowboarder ever. Success on this level (helped in part by his similar record in vert skating) has also made him a bona-fide A-List celebrity - the sort that gets to party with P Diddy, hang out at Elton John's house, or hook up with Leonardo di Caprio's ex. As such, he has a knack for nicking headlines so chances are you'd be watching him whether you read this list or not.

This year Shaun has got his eyes set on not one, but two Olympic gold medals - he's aiming to get the gold in both pipe and slopestyle in Sochi. Given his X-games six-peat you'd think his pipe game was untouchable, after opting out of Euro X games in Tignes, and with the likes of Ayumu Hirano and iPod nipping at his heels, you do wonder whether he's opened the window for trophy thieves...

In slopestyle, things are a little more complicated. He won it in Tignes last year, but his outings in the previous two US X Games have been far less impressive. However, Shaun's competitive streak is legendary and we're betting he'll be working his ass off to make sure he's got what it takes to beat the likes of Mark McMorris and Torstein Horgmo.

This ultra-competitive approach has not always made Shaun the most popular rider, and everyone loves to give their two cents on Mr White. But say what you like, you can't argue with his performance, and if you're after a podium spot this year, he's not gonna make it easy for you. Love him or hate him, whether or not he succeeds in grabbing two golds in Sochi, his attempt is sure to be the big snowboarding story of the year, especially where mainstream media are concerned. We'll enjoy watching it too, and it's for that reason that he tops our list.