Stale Sandbech took silver in Sochi. What will he do at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea? PHOTO| Chris Wellhausen
Norway, similar to Canada, lacks a viable threat in the halfpipe (save for Ståle Sandbech, the Viking wünderkid, who very well might be focusing his efforts solely on slope and big air), but their ammunition in slopestyle and big air for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea is unmatched by nearly every other country except Canada. Basically, when it comes to non-halfpipe events in Korea, we believe the odds-on favorites for podium positions are those two countries. Their talent pool is deep, ranging from slope and big air veterans to current superstars at the top of the competitive arena to up-and-comers who will ensure that Norway is a veritable powerhouse for years to come. – T. Bird
Norwegian culture is that of efficiency and minimizing confusion, and that's exactly what they've done with their team's selection and qualification process. They are allowed four spots for the men and slopestyle and big air are viewed as one team, so they will definitely have four men competing in that. As of right now, Silje Norendal is a lock for the women's side, but it remains to be seen if more women will make Team Norway for the 2018 Games. As for how these riders are selected, the higher-ups of Team Norway simply select the riders based on who is riding the best at the time and who they believe will have the best chance of taking home a medal. Oh, how nice that must be…
Favorites in Slope and Big Air
Ståle Sandbech had a good Olympic debut in Sochi.
The reigning Olympic slopestyle silver medalist and the most decorated competitive athlete in Norwegian history, save for Terje Haakonsen, Ståle Sandbech is both a household name in our sport and one of the favorites heading into the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. What makes Ståle so dangerous is his ability to adapt. Look at Sochi for example. Ståle's first run was chock-full of double and triple corks because many riders assumed that's what the judges would want to see, but as soon as the US's Sage Kotsenburg dropped in and kept his spins flat, Ståle switched up his run and did the same, earning him a silver behind Sage. Many believe that Ståle is the most well-rounded slopestyle rider on the planet and he's got chops in big air, as well, making him a double threat in Korea.
Marcus Kleveland and Seb Toots will likely be seeing eachother in the Olympics, only flying different flags. Check out our 2018 Winter Olympic predictions for the Canadian snowboarding team here!
Possible the odds-on favorite (save for Mark McMorris) to take home gold in both slopestyle and big air, Marcus Kleveland is on an absolute tear right now. He won the overall Air & Style big air title by placing somewhere on the podium of all three events and he won slopestyle gold and big air silver in Aspen at the X Games, making him not just the rookie of the year this winter, but possibly the best contest rider of the season. Marcus learns tricks on a daily basis, seemingly every time he straps in, and heading into Korea he will be more motivated than ever to show the world that this is his time, which should scare the shit out of every other men's competitor at the Pyeongchang Games.
Editor’s note: Torstein has since responded and announced he will not be competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Torstein is heading into Korea with a point to prove. At the 2014 Sochi Games, he broke his collarbone in practice, and thus flew hom without getting the opportunity to compete on the Olympic stage, and there's arguably no better rider on earth than Torstein when he's riding with a chip on his—ahem—shoulder. He was the first rider to ever land a triple cork in big air competition and he has the heaviest array of trick of just about any rider alive. Don't count Torstein out as an underdog on the Norwegian team simply because the other members are a little bit younger, because there's no doubt that they all still look to him to lead the charge of Team Norway.
Torgeir Bergrem is one of the most consistent big air and slopestyle riders on the planet, and if he puts down the run in slope or the trick in big air that he's capable of, there's no doubt that he can land on the podium. He had three impressive showings at the Air & Style this past season and proved that he can hang with the world's best and there's little doubt that he's gonna learn some new moves before Korea and unveil them on an international level, and we can't wait to see what he does in 2018.
Mons is a sleeper, and we're not just saying that because of his demure demeanor and relaxed persona, but he is oft overlooked by many a snowboard pundit simply because the Norwegian team is so stacked with talent. This kid is absolutely unreal and his switch backside spins are nearly unrivaled by his competitors. He's an equal threat in both disciplines, so don't be surprised if he not only makes the Norwegian team, but also if he makes waves in the snowboard world by flying home with some hardware around his neck.
Better known simply as "The Fridge," this kid is inhibition-free, as wild as they come and insanely talented. His bag of tricks is absolutely insane, too, and that's not even in reference to the fact that this kid ALWAYS rides with a backpack on. He's loose, and a definite wildcard/underdog to make the team, but after his showing at Superpark 21 where the only place he sent it harder than on the hill was the bar, we are officially rooting for The Fridge to make his Olympic debut. Hey, we can dream, can't we?
Silje Norendal is a top five slopestyle competitor for sure. In fact, she's one of the greats in female competitive snowboarding, and one of the only women on earth who can claim that they've beaten Jamie Anderson at a world-class slopestyle event. She could do well in big air, but we don't see many girls challenging Hailey Langland at this juncture, however, Silje could most definitely walk away with a medal from Korea.
Odds-On Chances to Medal
Very, very good. Granted, that medal would come in slopestyle and big air, but with riders like Marcus, Torstein, Ståle, Silje, Mons and Torgeir, there's an Olympic medal in there somewhere, regardless of who makes the Norwegian team. There is a very high chance of seeing one of the aforementioned riders on the podium, and in our opinion, there's definitely also a chance to see double golds in slopestyle and big air by one of those names as well.