Brrr... bleep... blooop... Marcus Kleveland will win the slopestyle. According to the WSPL at least. Photo: Sam Mellish
'WHO WILL WIN THE OLYMPICS?' was the title of the mail we just received from the WSPL. Who or what is the WSPL you might ask? That would be the World Snowboarding Points List, young snowboarder – it's what the WST/TTR has become in the aftermath of all the events they used to umbrella either jacking it in or throwing their hands in the air and bedding down with the FIS. Sniff.
"The WSPL is the constantly updating world ranking list of all active competition results at all events world wide," bleeps the PR. "An athlete’s top 3 results from the past 12 months are included. This should mean that the top ranked riders on the WSPL are the top performing riders for next week’s Olympic Games, right?"
So in the interest of Man vs Machine, we decided to put the WSPL data to the test and see how it goes for predicting Olympic results. Just kidding. The WSPL guys used the rankings as a jump-off point, and freestyled with a bit of good, old fashioned organic thinking to modify the prediction based on form, injury and whatnot. It makes for interesting, analytical reading and raises points you'd do well to consider if you're thinking of having a flutter or just calling the podium with your bros.
Read their call, and why, below...
WSF predictions based on the WSPL and recent WSPL trending
Slopestyle Podium prediction
Halfpipe Podium prediction
Big Air Podium prediction
FIRST EVENT ON THE OLYMPIC SCHEDULE IS SLOPESTYLE
Their data, and gut-related thinking makes for interesting reading. Actually, their predictions tally pretty well with the internal bickering we had here the other day – not 100%, but close. And theirs is actually backed up by data, rather than just raw human thought. Here's how they arrived at their podiums...
Slopestyle - men
This Saturday (10th Feb) is the Men’s Slopestyle Qualification with the Finals on Sunday (11th Feb).
The current top 3 on the WSPL for men’s slopestyle are Marcus Kleveland (NOR), Mark McMorris (CAN) and Sven Thorgren (SWE).
If you follow snowboarding and the WSPL you will know that the Swedish ruler Sven Thorgren is out of the game with a broken collarbone which puts Seb Tourtant (CAN) into the 3rd ranked position. Now we love Seb but his WSPL top 3 results are all from early 2017 and before the games are over 2 of his top 3 results will become ineligible for the WSPL and his ranking will unfortunately plummet possibly out of the top 10.
Based on recent more results the one to watch will be Marcus Kleveland for sure. He is at the top of his game and any betting person would have him as odds on favourite. Mark McMorris definitely should be in second right now and he will be right there pushing Marcus for the top spot right down to the last run of the finals. 3rd rider on the podium is a bit harder to predict however. There are a bunch of riders trending up right now. Darcy Sharpe (CAN) just pulled the performance of the year to place 2nd at the X Games. Red Gerard (US) has slayed the US Grand Prix events this year with his 1st and 2nd places and 4th at both X Games and Dew Tour. Kyle Mack (US) is as unpredictable as Sage Kotenburg (US) was before Sochi. His style and trick choice can make him the best rider in the field on any given day. His January result this year saw him winning the Mammoth Mtn Grand Prix slopestyle event… The other always reliable and insanely talented rider who could put his experience above the rest is Stale Sandbech (NOR) who currently is sitting in 5th position on the WSPL. The ever-smooth operator with Olympic podium history could easily do it again if he likes the course and is feeling it. Never forget Max Parrot (CAN) as he can pull a slopestyle win easily out of his bag of tricks. We need to bow our heads to Yuki Kadono (JAP) for not being allowed to compete for Japan, as he would be a major contender in both slopestyle and big air.
So based on the WSPL results and current trending athletes there is a high chance on the Mens’s Slopestyle podium being:
Marcus Kleveland (NOR), Mark McMorris (CAN) and Red Gerard (US)
Slopestyle - women
This Sunday (11th Feb) is Women’s Slopestyle Qualification with the Finals on Monday (12th Feb).
The current top 3 for Women’s slopestyle are Jamie Anderson (US), Anna Gasser (AUT) and Spencer O’brien (CAN).
The exact same thing can be said for the women’s slopestyle as for the mens’s. The top 2 are solid - 100% odds on favourites for being on the podium. Between them they have won just about every major event in the world. Anna Gasser is at the very top of the game with way bigger and better tricks than all of the other women but Jamie is Jamie and is the best female freestyle snowboarder the world has ever seen, and her history alone could be all she needs. The 3rd position however is going to be seriously fought after with a number of top 10 riders battling for it. Spencer won the Dew Tour in November, Julia Marino (US) placed 2nd at both the X Games and the Mammoth Grand Prix in January. Enni Rukajarvi (FIN) has placed 3rd at both the X Games and Dew Tour this year, which were both strong Olympic finals style rider field events, Reira Iwabuchi (JAP) placed 2nd at the Aspen Grand Prix World Cup and 5th at X Games.
So based on the WSPL results and current trending athletes there is a good chance on the Womens’s Slopestyle podium being:
Jamie Anderson (US), Anna Gasser (AUT) and Enni Rukajarvi (FIN)
HALFPIPE - WOMEN
This Monday (12th Feb) is Women’s Halfpipe Qualification with the Finals on Tuesday (13th Feb).
The halfpipe schedule starts with the women.
The current top 3 for women is an all US affair featuring Chloe Kim (US), Kelly Clark (US) and Maddie Mastro (US)
The WSPL is proving that there are 2 riders fighting for the top spot in each discipline but the third spot is less predictable. Chloe Kim is almost unbeatable in women’s pipe unless she falls or has a really bad day. She is by far the top female halfpipe rider so all bets are on her taking gold. Kelly Clark has so much experience at the very top of the sport and is still after all these years most likely to be on the podium in second. Third is again less predictable although Maddie Mastro should be the one with the highest odds placing 3rd at X Games with a new run with much stronger tricks than earlier events, 2nd at the Grand Prix in Aspen and 4th in Dew Tour. Her recent results show she is on her game.
The ones to watch will be Arielle Gold (US) 2nd X Games, 3rd Dew Tour, 4th Mammoth Grand Prix, Xuetong Cai (CHI) who has 2nd LAAX Open, 3rd World Cup in China and 5th X Games and Jiayu Liu (CHI) 1st LAAX Open, 1st World Cup in China and 6th at X Games. Queralt Casterllet.(ESP) should not be forgotten as she recently found her form to win the Grand Prix event in Aspen against an Olympic quality field.
So based on the WSPL results and current trending athletes there is a good chance on the Women’s Halfpipe podium we will see:
Chloe Kim (US), Kelly Clark (US) and Maddie Mastro (US)
HALFPIPE - MEN
This Tuesday (13th Feb) is Mens’s Halfpipe Qualification with the Finals on Wednesday (14th Feb).
The current top 3 for men’s halfpipe are Scotty James (AUS), Shaun White (US) and Ayumu Hirano (JAP)
Considered by some as the blue ribbon event of the Olympics the men’s halfpipe WSPL is looking like it should be very accurate for the Games. Scotty James and Shaun White have been battling it out consistently for the past 12 months. Shaun has beaten Scotty in some and Scotty has beaten Shaun in some. Scotty did however win the Korean test event World Cup so has the home pipe advantage. Shaun is going into his 4th Olympic Games, which gives him a lot of experience but Scotty is going into his 3rd games and is 8 years his junior so at 23 y/o Scotty should have the advantage. Ayumu is a masterclass in pipe riding and the X Games gold from last week just proved that on any given day he can out-boost and out-style his competition. Men’s pipe is without a doubt the closest field on the WSPL for the top 3 so an awesome battle will take place. Ben Ferguson (US) is the most likely rider to disrupt the top 3 ranked riders having recently placed 3rd Dew Tour, 3rd X Games and 2nd at the Mammoth Grand Prix.
So based on the WSPL results and current trending athletes there is a good chance on the Men’s Halfpipe podium we will see:
Scotty James (AUS), Shaun White (US) and Ayumu Hirano (JAP)
BIG AIR - MEN
Next Monday (21st Feb) is Men’s Big Air Qualification with the Finals on Wednesday (24th Feb).
The current top 3 for men’s Big Air are Max Parrot (CAN), Mark McMorris (CAN) and Chris Corning (US)
Men’s Big Air WSPL looks like it could be the possible outcome of the Games. Max and Mark are almost a safe bet. Marcus Kleveland will definitely fight hard against Chris Corning to be the third man on the podium. Marcus on a good day could win the first Olympic Big Air and has more, big event high-pressure experience.
There are a number of other top 10 Big Air riders who could upset these 3 but the WSPL data has these 3 as odds on favourites when in big events and under pressure. Another bow of the heads for Yuki Kadono for not making the Japanese Olympic team as he would have been a contender for the podium for sure.
So based on the WSPL results and current trending athletes there is a good chance on the Men’s Big Air podium being:
Max Parrot (CAN), Mark McMorris (CAN) and Marcus Kleveland (NOR)
BIG AIR - WOMEN
Next Monday (19th Feb) is Men’s Big Air Qualification with the Finals on Wednesday (23rd Feb).
The current top 3 for men’s Big Air are Anna Gasser (AUT), Silje Norendal (NOR) and Julia Mariano (US)
Anna Gasser should win this by a mile. She has to have the best odds for Gold for any of the snowboarding disciplines. She has been untouchable for a few years now and is only getting better with time. Silje and Julia are both consistent but not unbeatable. Both of the Japanese girls Miyabi Onitsuka and Reira Iwabuchi who are sitting in 4th and 5th places on the WSPL could make the podium and their recent results especially by Reira with 2nd at X Games, 1st Grand Prix Aspen show they are riding well and ready to take on Silje and Julia. Jamie Anderson is a notable mention here despite the fact that she is currently in 13th position. She recently at X Games placed 3rd and 4th at the Grand Prix event in Aspen.
I would not be placing any bets on this one… But based on rankings and experience – especially the recent results on the WSPL the best forecast for the Women’s Big Air would be:
Anna Gasser (AUT), Reira Iwabuchi (JAP) and Jamie Anderson (US)
These predictions are made based off the WSPL data and a lot of gut feel. Get on the www.worldsnowboarding.org website and make your own predictions based on the data and see how you do.