Torah Bright at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen
Torah Bright at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Is Team Australia Halfpipe the Favorites Heading Into the 2018 Winter Olympics?

Australia

We would say that Australia is a sleeper team if it hadn't been so damn dominant in the past few years leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. While the country may be devoid of any massive peaks hosting chairlifts, they certainly know how to produce world-class halfpipe riders. Much like Switzerland, OZ doesn't have a big time slopestyle rider in the mix, and their best medal hopefuls are certainly in the halfpipe, where they boast a phenomenal team with two superstars. Keep eyes on Australia, as they've stood atop the podium before and they will most likely stand there once again.- T. Bird

Australia Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The Australian’s travel well, creating this cheering section in 2014 for the Sochi Winter Olympics. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

Qualification/Selection Process

Potential athletes are nominated to the team based on who the AOC Selection Committee believes will have the best chance of taking home a medal. However, in order to be nominated, potential candidates must have the minimum number of FIS points (50.00) by the 22nd of January.

Favorites in Halfpipe

Scotty James went toe-to-toe with Shaun White through the last year of competition, it is a tossup to who takes the top spot in PyeongChang. PHOTO: Mark Clavin


Scotty James
Scotty James may be the preeminent favorite coming into the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after coming off his best season ever, culminating in a gold medal in Aspen at the Winter X Games. The kid's on a roll and is one of the only riders alive who can beat Shaun White in a head-to-head match-up with no handicap, thanks to tricks like backside 1260 double corks…on his first hit!



08_Torah_Bright_Sochi_Olympics_Chris_Wellhausen

Torah stood atop the podium after this run in 2014. As focus shifts to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeonChang, expect to hear Torah’s name come up in conversation. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen


Torah Bright
Torah Bright has been so good for so long that it's mind-boggling, and when you take a look at the 2018 favorite in the halfpipe, Chloe Kim, she has obviously used Torah's technicality as an inspiration to her approach in the pipe. Torah is always a contender and remember that she took home gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games and put herself on the world stage and she's not going anywhere any time soon.
2014_us_open_pipe_finals_methods_photo_hamilton38_

Kent Callister lays out a method at the U.S. Open after the last Winter Olympics in Sochi. PHOTO: Nick Hamilton


Kent Callister
Kent Callister is at the forefront of a crop of young Australian up-and-comers who will one day make a big splash in the professional pipe scene. There's no question that he's a bit of an underdog in the shadow of Scotty James, but at the Olympics, you never know what can happen. Look for Kent to throw it all on the line if he qualifies and try to make an impact in the first of two semifinal runs. Kid's got an insane method, too.



Nathan Johnstone
Nathan Johnstone is known for going all-in. He goes huge and puts it all out there in a competitive arena. His amplitude speaks volumes about his riding, but he's lacking the double corks needed to really shine. He will have a strong showing for Team Australia if he makes the team but he's a longshot to medal. However, we're excited to see his run if he in fact makes the trip to Pyeongchang.

A history of winning, Torah Bright takes gold in 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. PHOTO: Nick Hamilton

Odds-On Chances to Medal

We would put Team Australia's chances to medal at very good. Between Torah and Scotty, Oz has an incredible opportunity once again to show the world that they're a force to be reckoned with in the international snowboard scene. We expect podium appearances from both James and Bright, which allows a little breathing room for the young guns to step up and try to back up their superstar teammates with some more hardware.

More from TransWorld SNOWboarding here!