In a bold and almost inevitably successful attempt to make ourselves look more foolish than normal, we're going to be publishing our predictions for the Olympic podium spots in each of the four freeski events. To make things interesting, multiple time X Games head judge and all around boss Jason Arens (who sadly won't be in PyeonChang) will be joining me in the fun of likely getting it all wrong. First to drop in just a few hours, will be the slopestyle ladies. This seems as good a place as any to point out that in all the World Cups, we've seen a two-run qualifying, followed by a two-run final the next day (or even two days later). Suddenly changing things up to two runs of qualifying followed by three in the final immediately afterwards for the Olympics, with everyone having qualified under a different standard, is pretty crazy. Five runs in a row sounds like a big ask too but that's what the finalists are facing.
A three run final definitely gives athletes more margin for error though and that should mean attempts at more progressive runs. Based on the last few events we've seen, particularly X Games slope and big air, that's going to mean you will probably need at least one dub to podium on the ladies side of things. Of course a wind apocalypse like we saw on the snowboard side of things might change that.
We both picked Johanne Killi for gold. This is the main reason why.
Gold - Johanne Killi: She’s been skiing so well for the past few years, and has the most complete slope runs I’ve seen from almost any female slope competitor (aside from Kelly), plus her switch dub 10 is arguably the best jump trick being done by the ladies (and she may be working a double grab into the mix *double japan* cough).
Silver - Tess Ledux: Her skiing has been so consistent over the past year. Her runs are unique, have good grab/rotation variation and usually tech rails, plus she has that flawless dub 10 safety she’s been dialing in.
Bronze - Maggie Voisin or Jennie Lee Burmansson: Both are on fire and I couldn't pick between the two to round out the podium. Maggie’s jump line is one of the most progressive of the girls (that aren’t doing doubles) and her rails are usually standout. She is usually a contender for all “three jump” courses. Jennie Lee is far and away the best rail skier in the bunch, and with such heavy rail emphasis on this course I'm excited to see what she links together. Her jumps are unique and usually very well grabbed, she could easily end on the podium.
Sarah Hoefflin, Mathilde Gremaud, Tirill Sjstad Christensen, & Dara Howell. All of these girls have heavy hitting runs and could easily be in the podium hunt. Sarah has the capability of being the first girl ever to do (attempt) doubles in more than one direction in a female slope run, Mathilde has some killer jump tricks including a switch double ten and a rodeo 9 we saw in Norway X last year however she’s been injured since so we haven’t seen much of her, Tiril always finds her way to the top of the pack; spinning left and right, grabbing well, and doing tech rail runs. She pulled off the win at her last comp in Mammoth so I wouldn’t be surprised with another big showing. And of course Dara, the reigning gold medalist, she’s been absent from the scene for the most part of the last 4 years but she still has what it takes if she puts down a run.
I think the major factor here is going to be who can put down a safety run to make it to the finals. If they can all make it, it's hard to look past those with known dubs to take the gold.
Gold - Johanne Killi: On the basis that switch dub 10 is probably going to score better the forward dub 10, and that rail game is going to play a strong role, I'm going to call Killi for the gold. She has good enough rail tricks to tick that box in the judging, in fact, without Kelly Sildaru in the field, she's as good on rails as anyone else.
Silver - Tess Ledeux: Tess is super consistent and notably is throwing her dub more casually than anyone else. Her jump tricks are perhaps more unique than Johanne's other tricks which could lead to her taking the top spot, but on balance I think she's more at home doing tech tricks on smaller rails and the forward dub 10 where most other ladies have a switch dub could be her downfall.
Bronze - Maggie Voisin: For third, I'm really struggling to call between Sarah Hoefflin and Maggie Voisin. However, Maggie is super consistent, always has great grabs, probably has the best rail game of any of the contenders (except Jennie, who's jump game has typically let her down), won at X, and fuck, it's always the Americans in the end isn't it?
- Sarah Hoefflin: I would probably have called Sarah for a medal, but if she can land her best clean run, I think she'll win the whole thing. And if she can't, I don't think she'll be top 3 so I erred with Johanne for the win. It's seems likely that it's all or nothing in her case. While her rails aren't generally on the level of the other three I've picked for the podium, she has the potential to go switch right sev high mute (or switch right dub wobble 10) to switch left dub 9 and that would surely seal the deal. If she can keep it clean and do enough on the rails then I think she'll win.
- Mathilde Gremaud/Tiril Sjastad-Christiansen: Both have had major injury problems but they both have potential to take the top spot. Tiril kills rails and spins cleanly both ways, while Mathilde has a definite possibility to go rodeo 9 in to switch dub 10 which is a heavy jump combo. Tiril won the Mammoth World Cup so she seems like she's skiing back at full strength. I don't really know how well Mathilde is skiing post injury but she has the tricks, so if she's on fire, she could take this too.