Paralympic Winter Games
9-18 March

PyeongChang 2018 Sport Week: Five snowboard storylines

Will the USA dominate? Who will take home the men’s SB-LL2 prizes? 09 Feb 2018
a male Para snowboarder

Teenager Chris Vos is one of the main medal contenders for PyeongChang 2018

ⒸLandgraaf LOC

Since Sochi 2014, where snowboard made its Paralympic debut, new riders have mixed with veterans, and the competition has become increasingly stiff.

Here are five storylines to following heading into the Paralympic Winter Games:

1. Will the USA extend their dominance?

US snowboarders have occupied the podiums during the 2017-18 World Cup season, with Brenna Huckaby and Mike Schultz hoisting the overall crystal globes in the women and men’s SB-LL1 categories, respectively. The country also showed their strength at the 2017 World Championships, where they medalled in seven of the 10 events, including three golds.

When the sport made its Paralympic debut at Sochi 2014, the US swept the men’s snowboard-cross podium, and Amy Purdy represented the women’s side with bronze.

2. Thrilling top four

Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari holds both gold medals in the men’s SB-LL2 from the 2017 World Championships. However, Japan’s Gurimu Narita broke through last year, and topped that off with the overall World Cup title this season. Then there are the USA’s Evan Strong and Mike Shea looking to medal again in their second Paralympic Games. The men’s SB-LL2 titles in PyeongChang could go any way.

3. Maxime Montaggioni vs Mike Minor

France’s Montaggioni and the USA’s Minor each took one of the two gold medals on offer at the 2017 World Championships, with Montaggioni upsetting favourite Minor in the men’s banked slalom SB-UL. Since then, the French snowboarder has been keeping in close with Minor, who dominated the World Cup seasons in 2016-17, and 2015-16. However, the 2017-18 overall crown went to Montaggioni.

4. Young riders emerge

The women’s SB-LL2 has been dominated by the Netherlands’ Paralympic and multi-world champion Bibian Mentel-Spee. The Dutch veteran spent another summer fighting cancer and used this season to focus on recovering from radiation therapy. Meanwhile, rising riders in the Netherlands’ Lisa Bunschoten and Australia’s Joany Badenhorst have been head-to-head in the category, with Badenhorst recently overtaking Bunschoten for the overall World Cup trophy.

5. Vos coming of age

The Netherlands’ Chris Vos grabbed attention when he stormed out of the 2015 World Championships with double gold at 17 years old. By 19, he could call himself a four-time world champion. Can he add the title of Paralympic champion by age 20? He has not had the strongest season lately, with Schultz owning the World Cup scene in the men’s SB-LL1. But that poses an interesting showdown in a month’s time.

The Paralympic Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9-18 March. Tickets can be purchased here.