By Brandon Penny — 1/25/10
4 gold… 2 silver… 1 bronze… That is the resume of Olympic medals the 2010 U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Team already has under its belt.
The seven medalists will be looking to repeat their past Olympic performances. And the other eleven snowboarders are prepared to add medals of their own to America’s medal total and to their trophy cabinets.
The eighteen-member team is made up of four men and four women competing in the halfpipe, four men and three women racing in snowboardcross, and two men and one woman snowboarding downhill in parallel giant slalom.
The Flying Tomato, a.k.a. Shaun White, is the star of the men’s halfpipe team. He won four of this season’s five U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix events, and his chances look good to defend his gold medal.
The other famous face Americans will be watching on the halfpipe is “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Louie Vito. Vito has two second-place finishes to White at the season’s Grand Prix. He finished in eighth-place on season nine of “Dancing,” but is sure to beat that on the snowbanks of Cypress Mountain.
Joining White and Vito are Olympic newcomers Scotty Lago and Greg Bretz.
The women’s halfpipe team features the same riders as the ’06 team. Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler, who won gold and silver respectively four years ago, will battle each other for the gold. ’02 Olympic champion Kelly Clark hopes to make a comeback on Olympic snow after she had fallen into fourth place in Torino. Like Shaun White, Clark won four of five Grand Prix events this season. Elena Hight rounds out the women’s halfpipe team. She has three Grand Prix fifth-place finishes.
This season, six different American men were on the World Cup podium in snowboardcross. There are only four spots on the team. Torino Olympic champion Seth Wescott was lucky enough to make the team with a second-place finish on the World Cup circuit. Olympians Nate Holland and Graham Watanabe are back in hopes of winning their first medals. Watanabe’s best results this season are second and third. Holland is the only American with a World Cup win from the season. First-time Olympian Nick Baumgartner is the final member of the team. He has one third-place finish this year.
Four years ago, Lindsey Jacobellis gave up her three-second lead in the Olympic finals when she chose to showboat and fell on the second-to-last jump. She had to settle for a silver medal. Jacobellis has learned from her mistake and the five-time X Games champion will do anything to grab the gold medal that slipped away. Jacobellis will be accompanied by Olympic rookies Faye Gulini and Callan Chythlook-Sifsof.
Ten years ago, Chris Klug was fortunate enough to receive a liver transplant to treat sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver disease. Two years later, Klug became the first transplantee to compete in the Olympics, and the first to win a medal, in parallel giant slalom. Eight years later, the 37-year-old snowboarder is returning to the Olympics in hopes of improving on his bronze finish. The other man on the PGS team is Tyler Jewell, who beat Klug out for a spot on the 2006 team.
The lone woman competing in PGS is 26-year-old Bostonian Michelle Gorgone.
Snowboarding will kick off in Vancouver with SBX February 15th and 16th, followed by halfpipe on the 17th and 18th, and concludes with PGS on the 26th and 27th.