The Winter Olympics will have its share of legends, from Shaun White to Meryl Wilson and Charlie White to Teemu Selanne. But older athletes aren't the only ones traveling to Sochi with dreams of gold medals. The next generation of snowboarders and skiers will also hit the slopes, trying to make some history by knocking their heroes off the podium.
When the 2014 Games begin on Friday, keep an eye on Sarah Hendrickson, Ayumu Hirano, Torin Yater-Wallace, Arielle Gold, and Mikaela Shiffrin. These high-flying teenagers are going to turn some heads in Sochi!
Can one of the most popular winter athletes of all time continue his snowboarding dominance in Sochi? That's the question facing Shaun White, who won gold in the halfpipe at the 2006 and '10 Olympics and is still considered the best in the world in the event.
Nicknamed the Flying Tomato in '06 for his red hair, White will make history by becoming the first U.S. men's snowboarder to participate in three Olympics. But that distinction isn't enough for the 27-year-old.
"He's going to arrive at the Sochi Olympics a better halfpipe rider than he's ever been," says White's coach, Bud Keene.
Australian snowboarder Torah Bright was one of the big stories of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Heading into the Games, Bright had won championships at every level. All she needed was a gold medal to make her status as one of the best — if not the best — snowboarder in the world official. After crashing on her first run, Bright dominated her second run to win gold in the halfpipe and bring home only the fourth Winter Olympics gold medal in Australia’s history.
Bright will be back on the Australian team for the Sochi Games in February. But rather than simply try to repeat her success in Vancouver, she has set a more ambitious goal. Bright hopes to be the first person ever to qualify in halfpipe, slopestyle, and snowboard cross.
Last summer, Bright stopped by Sports Illustrated Kids’ offices to talk preparing to compete in three events, what she knows about Sochi, and her goals for the 2014 Games.
When it comes to action sports, nobody goes bigger than Red Bull athletes. They turn in big-time performances and pull big-time tricks to push the limits of their sports. And that usually results in some wild video and great photography — like the images selected by the company as the best sports images of 2013.
The folks at Red Bull revealed their list of the top 13 photos "from the world of Red Bull" today, and the selections are pretty amazing. Here's what I think are the five best images from the group:
Snowboarder Kevin Pearce was a rising star when, in December 2009, he suffered a traumatic brain injury while trying to pull a difficult trick called the cab double cork. Pearce was lucky to be alive, and some people thought he would never ride a snowboard again. But he persevered, and only eight months after his accident was back on a board. He quickly realized he was not recovered enough to be as good as he was, and in 2011 he announced he would never ride competitively again. At 24 years old, his professional snowboarding career was over -- but his life was just beginning. He became a passionate and devoted advocate for head injury awareness and brain health. And his story of recovery has inspired millions of kids and adults around the world.
On Tuesday, the organization Stoked will recognize Pearce with the Stoked Achievement Award at its sixth annual Stoked Awards dinner in New York. The award celebrates resilience, success, and using action sports culture to help under-served kids. Past winners have included Tony Hawk and Paul Rodriguez.
Last week, Pearce talked with Sports Illustrated Kids about receiving the award, how his recovery has been going, and going to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.