I don’t think I’ve had a harder time making predictions. It’s not because I’ve added snowmobile events and taken more time to deliberate, but rather, everyone has stepped up their game. Even though we’ve got some possible two- and three-peats, there are many challengers who have made a name for themselves in the past year. To mix things up even more, injuries have taken several big names out of the competition. There’s no doubt that the 2012 Winter X Games will be exciting to watch.
Women’s Skier X – Hedda Berntsen
The favorites are all out due to injury, but don’t count out Hedda Berntsen. She won silver at the Olympics and has a background in multiple skiing disciplines that might just give her the extra edge.
Men’s Skier X – Chris del Bosco
Chris del Bosco definitely has the speed. He was barely edged out for the gold last year, and he’s going to let that fuel his competitive spirit.
Women’s Ski Slopestyle – Kaya Turski
Although Kaya Turski is going to have some tough competition in her quest for a three-peat, she just came off a Dew Tour win at Killington. Last March, she became the first woman to land a switch 1080, and she’s got a whole bunch of other technical tricks that will make her stand out.
Men’s Ski Slopestyle – Tom Wallisch
Tom Wallisch has been dominating the Dew Tour which his rail combos and back-to-back double corks. He has a tendency to get it together at the last minute, but if that means he thrives under pressure, then he’ll be poised to take the win.
Women’s Ski SuperPipe – Brita Sigourney
Brita Sigourney had a great season last year, and she’s keeping the momentum going with a Grand Prix World Cup win and a third at Killington. She’s got an arsenal of rotations and always packs in as many hits as possible.
Men’s Ski SuperPipe – Kevin Rolland
While Torin Yater-Wallace may be the It Boy and and “the guy who can beat” Kevin Rolland, the two-time defending gold medalist is going to put up a fight. He is one of the most consistent skiers around, and he links doubles like they’re nothing.
Ski Big Air – Bobby Brown
Last year, Bobby Brown was plagued with injury. Now that he’s back in full health, watch him throw down some insane tricks… like possibly a variation on the triple cork (which he was the first skier to stomp).
Women’s Snowboarder X – Maëlle Ricker
Lindsey Jacobellis had been my pick until she tore her ACL in today’s practice. This leaves the door for her rival (and Olympic gold medalist), Maëlle Ricker, to slide into a third X Games victory.
Men’s Snowboarder X – Nate Holland
Hot off an FIS World Cup win, Nate Holland is looking to reclaim the top spot. He has the drive and the aggressive style that will send him to the lead.
Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Jamie Anderson
It was hard to pick a winner with so many awesome skiers in the field, but rail tricks are going separate out the best. Jamie Anderson has the technical tricks, big spins, and smooth style that has brought her many victories already.
Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle – Sebastian Toutant
Like the ladies, any of the guys could easily claim the top spot. However, Sebastian Toutant has some of the biggest, cleanest tricks, and his recent second place finishes will be fuel for him to step up his game.
Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Kelly Clark
Recently, Kelly Clark has dominated women’s pipe the same way Shawn White has dominated men’s, winning the last twelve contests she has entered. Although her competitors are starting to close the gap, she has hinted at new tricks that will make her stand out.
Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe – Iouri Podladtchikov
If there is one man who can end Shaun White’s reign, it is Iouri Podladtchikov. He has one-upped Shaun’s double McTwist 1260 by doing it switch, and if he was playing it safe at last week’s competition (which he won), then he’s definitely got a winning run up his sleeve.
Snowboarding Big Air – Torstein Horgmo
Torstein Horgmo threw the first triple cork in competition while injured, and he was pissed… because the landing wasn’t perfect. This is the type of competitor he is so while others have done the triple now, he’s likely to find something completely unexpected.
Freestyle Snowmobile – Heath Frisby
Freestyle gold had eluded Heath Frisby, but with favorites Levi Lavalle and Daniel Bodin injured (apparently one day apart from one another), this veteran and innovator has the opportunity to rise to the top.
Snowmobile Best Trick – Caleb Moore
Last year, we got a taste of the insanity that the Moore brothers are capable of. Caleb is a bit more skilled of the two, and not only does he have the creativity to come up with new tricks, but he also demonstrates the commitment to pull off combos.