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Six rookies to root for in Sochi

Brother and sister Olympic duo Taylor (left, 20) and Arielle Gold (right, 17) both will compete in halfpipe in Sochi. Photos via Instagram
Brother and sister Olympic duo Taylor (left, 20) and Arielle Gold (right, 17) both will compete in halfpipe in Sochi. Photos via Instagram

These are the phenoms who were supposed to be gunning for 2018. But about a quarter of the 32 athletes poised to make the 2014 Olympic cut were rookies. You can bet snowboarding veterans like Shaun White and Kelly Clark took notes as these neophytes kept nailing it in Olympic qualifying rounds and climbing farther up the podiums. And with freestyle halfpipe and slopestyle skiing being added as brand-new events, the young guns have a shot at paving the way for the Winter Games in South Korea.

U.S. Freeskiing and Snowboarding coach Mike Jankowski has noted that the new competition from freshmen will only up the caliber of performances in Sochi. Here are the recruits to watch over the coming days.

Maggie Voisin is the youngest of the American crop heading to the Winter Games this year. She'll go up against women at least 10 years her senior, such as Canadian Kaya Turski, in women's slopestyle. Photo via Instagram
Maggie Voisin is the youngest of the American crop heading to the Winter Games this year. She’ll go up against women at least 10 years her senior in women’s slopestyle. Photo via Instagram

Maggie Voisin, 15
Hails from: Whitefish, Montana
Event: Women's Ski Slopestyle
At just 15, this stylie youngster, who snagged a discretionary spot to Sochi, showed this season that she's got the goods to challenge top-qualified skiers in the slopestyle event, which makes its Olympic debut at the 2014 Games. Recent hullabaloo about the legitimacy of the sport hasn't stopped Voisin, who won the U.S. Revolution Tour and the WSI/AFP World Championship event in Whistler, British Columbia, as well as bragging rights as this season's junior national champion, will be one to watch now and in the future.

 

Ty Walker, 16
Hails from: Stowe, Vermont
Event: Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
Pint-sized Walker strutted her stuff with a big trick arsenal to take fourth—the top U.S. spot—in the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix Olympic qualifier at Copper Mountain, Colorado, earlier in the season. She also had the best female finish at the FIS World Snowboarding Championship, launching her six spots up the World Snowboard Tour ranking to 10th overall. The feisty competitor reported that more on-snow and in-the-gym training paid off as she safely secured a coveted spot at Sochi.

Aaron Blunck, 17
Hails from: Crested Butte, Colorado
Event: Men's Ski Halfpipe
Logging his best ski season ever, Blunck bested U.S. Freeskiing Team veterans at the Copper Grand Prix Olympic qualifier in December. It's always unknown what this phenomenon, branded by his smooth style and crowd-pleasing tricks, can land in the next competition. And with his last-minute discretionary spot on the Sochi team, we'll all get a chance to see just what unfolds on the Olympic stage.

Arielle Gold, 17
Hails from: Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Event: Women's Snowboard Halfpipe
Gold, who was 15 when she won the Junior World Championships in halfpipe, will try to shine in Sochi—right alongside her older brother, Taylor, who will compete in men’s pipe next week. This has been Gold’s breakout season; she secured podium spots in almost every competition she entered, often overshadowing competitors up to 13 years her senior.

Taylor Gold, 20
Hails from:
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Event:
Men's Snowboard Halfpipe
After a silver medal in halfpipe at the Junior World Championships in 2011, Gold was sidelined by injuries in 2012. However, he earned a 2013 comeback with a win at the U.S. Revolution Tour and went on to secure a well-deserved Olympic spot for Sochi. Gunning for gold alongside Arielle, the brother-sister powerhouse is expected to light the up the Olympic snowboard arena as they have already done in their hometown.

Trevor Jacob's technically a snowboard cross rookie, but he's kind of a snowboarding Renaissance man. Photo by Kevin Westenbarger/via Instagram
Trevor Jacob’s technically a snowboard cross rookie, but he’s kind of a snowboarding Renaissance man. Photo by Kevin Westenbarger/via Instagram

Trevor Jacob, 20
Hails from: Mammoth Lakes, California
Event: Men's Snowboard Cross
A multitalented snowboarder, Jacob moved from the halfpipe and slopestyle disciplines to snowboard cross in 2012 and has never looked back. The natural athlete has shown no issues with the shift, sealing his fate by winning this season's SBX U.S. Championship. He heads to his first Olympics in Sochi under the guidance of experienced teammates like Lindsey Jacobellis, Nate Holland, and Alex Deibold.

 

 

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