Oakley Snow Team Heads to Winter X Games, Final Warm Up for Sochi Olympics

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The stakes are always high at X Games. At this event above all other, the Action Sports community is on lookout for the newest tricks from the biggest names, and even, from those names who aren’t yet as familiar. The next big thing is always just a run away. Those top performances carry extra weight this year in Aspen, Colo., as the event will be the final warm-up – and for some, the final qualification opportunity – before heading to Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics.

“It’s a momentous year for winter action sports. X Games is always a game changer as everyone unveils their newest and best. This year, coupled with the increased awareness due to the upcoming Winter Olympics, the opportunity to further the evolution and progression of these once counter-culture sports is huge,” said Patrick McIlvain, Oakley VP Global Sports Marketing. “To have back-to-back events of such magnitude is exciting. We look forward to seeing who will lay it on the line at X Games and are anxious to see how that will carry over to Sochi.”

With Slopestyle debuting alongside Superpipe on the Olympic schedule this year, Aspen will be an opportunity for a curious general audience to get a peak at what’s to come. What actually transpires at X Games will likely determine where the athlete and media conversations go in the final days and weeks leading up to the Opening Ceremonies in Russia.

Mark McMorris is the two-time defending X Games champion in Slopestyle and the favorite heading into Aspen and Sochi, having won or made the podium in almost every major competition over the past two years. With Shaun White choosing to sit this X Games out in order to prepare for Sochi, Superpipe supremacy will be up for the taking and we would be wise to watch for Japanese wunderkind Ayumu Hirano, who will be aiming to improve on his Silver Medal from 2013. On the women’s side, Jamie Anderson is the perennial favorite in Slopestyle, having won four Gold Medals in Aspen since 2007.

In freeskiing, Alex Schlopy and Joss Christensen are coming into Aspen having won events in Park City and waiting to hear if they’ve secured spots on the US Team in Slopestyle; results, nonetheless, that make them medal contenders at X Games. Henrik Harlaut will also be one of the most watched and talked about athletes on site, having rocked the freeskiing world last year with his Gold Medal-winning Nose Butter Triple Cork 1620 in Big Air. Having just missed qualifying for the Olympic team and having torn his ACL, Simon Dumont may still give Superpipe one last go before turning his focus to other pursuits. Another storyline in freeskiing is that of Kaya Turski. Having torn her ACL in her left knee while practicing in August, her Olympic hopes appeared in doubt. She made a surprise appearance at the Grand Prix event in Park City last week, and looks prepared to defend her Slopestyle crown in Aspen with the aim of expanding her current streak of six consecutive X Games Gold Medals before heading off to Sochi as a medal favorite.