Halfpipe shredders are dropping in for the World Cup opener: Here's who should be on your radar this campaign
The world’s best halfpipe freeskiers and snowboarders have descended on Copper Mountain, Colorado for the 2019 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix.
The state-of-the-art superpipe is prepped and primed to start the 2018-2019 FIS Ski & Snowboard World Cup halfpipe season.
What new tricks will we see this season? Who will take Shaun White's crown while the Olympic Champion focuses on his Tokyo 2020 skateboarding endeavours? And who will push the envelope to reign supreme?
18-year-old Chloe Kim has had an incredible year.
The PyeongChang 2018 halfpipe gold medallist is one of the hottest names in winter sport, and there's no signs of her slowing down.
American Kim became the first woman to stomp a frontside double cork 1080 in October and will be looking to make it three FIS World Cup championship titles in a row, having won the previous two women's season crowns.
Two-time Olympic Silver medallist Ayumu Hirano is a hot favourite and the men's defending champion for this week's season opener at Copper Mountain.
The 20-year-old is considered one of the most progressive halfpipe riders on the scene right now, and with Shaun White focused on skateboarding at Tokyo 2020, the Japanese star could take the halfpipe king crown... as long as his own skateboard ambitions haven't affected Hirano's training.
2014 Sochi halfpipe gold medallist Iouri Podladtchikov is making his long-awaited comeback.
The Swiss star known as ''I Pod'' was unable to defend his Olympic men's title in PyeongChang after sustaining a head injury during a nasty fall at X Games Aspen in January 2018.
In his recovery, the 30-year-old has pursued other passions like skateboarding and photography, where he held a exhibition in Zurich. But judging by this video his halfpipe skills are still up to scratch.
Men's Halfpipe - Snowboard | Sochi 2014 Replays
Men's Halfpipe - Snowboard | Sochi 2014 ReplaysG: Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI)S: Ayumu Hirano (JPN)B: Taku Hiraoka (JPN)
18-year-old Maddie Mastro is just starting to make a name for herself in pro snowboarding.
The American is a self confessed adrenaline junkie with an impressive trick list in her pocket.
She was the first female to land a double crippler and is the only other woman to have landed frontside double corks, alongside Chloe Kim.
Third place in halfpipe at the 2018 Winter X Games helped set the teen up for an Olympic debut in PyeongChang where she finished 12th.
America's David Wise successfully defended his Olympic title at Pyeongchang 2018.
The 28-year-old has had a decent break since the Games but has admitted he needs 'more mileage' on the pipe.
Hot on his heels in the men's competition are a couple of fellow Americans - Olympic silver medallist Alex Ferreira, and Aaron Blunck who was crowned 2017 FIS world champion.
The U.S. team have a new addition to their coaching staff with recently retired Sochi 2014 halfpipe silver medallist, Canada's Mike Riddle.
On the women's side it's hard to look past Olympic Champion Cassie Sharpe this season.
There's little the 26-year-old Canadian hasn't done since winning gold in South Korea.
Back on the snow, Sharpe hasn't competed since March in Tignes but given she's qualified first for the season opener finals at Copper Mountain, she's clearly still got the style and ferociousness to stomp big moves.
We can't forget to mention she also holds the record for the highest amplitude out of the halfpipe.
Sharpe's second run is enough for Women's Halfpipe Gold | Freestyle Skiing
Sharpe's second run is enough for Women's Halfpipe Gold | Freestyle SkiingCanada's freestyle skier Cassie Sharpe finished ahead of French veteran Marie Martinod (silver) and of Brita Sigourney (bronze).
16-year-old Kelly Sildaru is a force to be reckoned with, and certainly one-to-watch for the season.
The Estonian was a gold medal favourite for PyeongChang, but was forced to be a spectator after tearing her ACL in her left knee last season.
Just last month she won the first FIS freeski slopestyle world cup of the season in Austria.
And don't forget 16-year-old Nico Porteous. He stunned the world by winning Olympic bronze at PyeongChang 2018.
Seven months later he followed up that performance by winning the freeski halfpipe Junior World Championship title on home soil in New Zealand.
Young and fearless - this teen is out to prove that Kiwi's can fly.
Nico Porteous: The Kiwi Freeski Halfpipe Prodigy
Nico Porteous: The Kiwi Freeski Halfpipe ProdigyHe’s the youngest person in the world to land the triple cork 1440 in freestyle skiing… who is he?
Schedule for Freeski and Snowboard World Cup halfpipe season 2018/2019
- 06-08 December 2018 - Copper Mountain (USA)
- 19-21 December 2018 - Secret Garden (CHN)
- 15-19 January 2019 - Laax (SUI) ** Only snowboard
- 13 - 15 February 2019 - Calgary (CAN)
- 6-9 March 2019 - Mammoth Mountain Resort (USA)
- 20-21 March 2019 - Tignes (FRA) ** Only Freeski
The Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships will be the highlight of the season from 1-10 February 2019 in Utah, USA. The event will be staged across three venues -Park City, Deer Valley and Solitude Mountain.
Information subject to change.