jiayuliu

Age: 17 (September 17, 1992)

Hometown: Harbin, China

Stance: Regular

Board team: Burton

Recent results: Superpipe wins at the 2009 FIS World Championships in Gangwon, Korea; the World Winter Universiade in Maoershan, China; the 2009 Cardrona FIS World Cup; the Valmalenco FIS World Cup; the Saas Fee FIS World Cup; and a second place at the Cypress Mountain FIS World Cup.

Olympic outlook: Relatively unknown on the North American scene, Jiayu’s been reigning supreme on the international FIS circuit, clocking three World Cup wins in the ’09 season—plus a gold at the FIS Worlds in Korea. She has all the components of a perfect run—back to back 540s, sevens, and a nice big Cab 900. She goes big, and although her tricks lack a tad bit of finesse (which should come with time), she’s solid and consistent, and riding on some major podium momentum right now.

Potential downfall: Jiayu doesn’t have any prior Olympic experience, and no matter how prepared you are, there’s a lot of mind games involved with competing on this level—especially considering how seriously China takes the Olympics. Also, she has focused on the World Cup circuit this winter, and hasn’t competed in any Grand Prix or X Games, so the Olympics will be the first time all winter that she’ll be competing against her biggest rivals like Kelly and Gretchen.