Top things to know about the 2021/22 snowboarding season

With a Big Air World Cup stop in Chur, Switzerland beginning on 23 October, Team USA's defending Olympic champions Shaun White and Chloe Kim are tops among the snowboarders to watch out for as the winter season gets underway.

By Jonah Fontela
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

The 2021/22 International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard World Cup season kicks off on the picturesque banks of the Rhine River in Chur, capital of the Swiss canton of Grisons, on 23 October.

The inaugural winter season event, an historic double World Cup stop, will host more than 100 riders from all over the world and marks the start of a tour that will span 31 men’s and women’s events in 27 venues on three continents (Europe, Asia and North America). With Olympic qualifying points and spots on the line over the next four months, competition on the slopes is bound to be fierce.

The tour comes to an end on 27 March, on the other side of the seventh Olympic snowboarding competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

The world’s top snowboarders will be on hand and aiming to sharpen their form and tighten their best tricks ahead of the Beijing Games which run from 4-20 February, 2022. From old favourites like legend Shaun White and the dominant 21-year-old sensation Chloe Kim (on the men’s and women’s halfpipe respectively) to young and up-and-coming stars in the making like Japan’s ONO Mitsuki and USA’s 18-year-old Dusty Henricksen in Big Air/Slopestyle, the 2021/22 snowboarding world cup promises, as always, speed, high flight and daredevilry aplenty.

The disciplines of slalom, snowboard cross, halfpipe and slopestyle/big air will all be featured on the tour.

Kim, Anderson set women's standard

Representing the United States – far and away the most successful nation in Olympic snowboarding history – Chloe Kim is the undisputed queen of the women’s halfpipe. In PyeongChang in 2018 she became the youngest woman, still at the tender age of 17, to win a women’s snowboarding gold.

Kim is the reigning world, Olympic, Youth Olympic, and X Games champion (her sixth title in that competition) and the only athlete ever to wear all four crowns at once.

Chloe Kim of the United States competes during the Snowboard Ladies' Halfpipe Final on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Fully healed from a sprained ankle she picked up in March, Kim is the runaway favourite to finish first in the women’s halfpipe events at the upcoming winter World Cup, while she uses the tour stops to hone her signature run for the Beijing Games. There, at the Genting Snow Park, she'll try to add to the gold she won four years ago in the Republic of Korea with a dominant display that marked her out, likely for many years to come, as the gold standard on the women’s halfpipe.

After a return to competition earlier this year, Kim, now an active undergraduate student at Princeton University, went four-for-four atop the podium, including at the world championship and X-Games. The 2021 world championship runner-up – and Kim’s USA teammate Maddie Mastro – will also be one to keep an eye on in the women’s halfpipe.

Other women riders to watch are PyeongChang 2018 gold-medal winner Jamie Anderson and Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand in the Big Air/Slopestyle events, while Austrian Anna Gasser will be aiming to recapture her form after a dip in fortunes. Over in the parallel giant slalom, Czech veteran Ester Ledecka remains up among the best of the best.

In the women's snowboard cross event, 36-year-old American Lindsey Jacobellis will hope to keep momentum among a flurry of young and talented challengers.

White, Parrot look to bounce back on men's side

Shaun White, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and icon of the men's halfpipe, will need to re-establish himself after a long time away from competitive snowboarding -- and ahead of what would be his fifth Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Having only competed once in the men’s halfpipe since winning his third gold medal in 2018 at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, White will likely be dealing with a fair bit of rust after nearly three years off the competitive snowboarding circuit. And he can count on a pack of hungry young guns eager to snatch his crown away.

White's fourth-place performance at the USA Grand Prix in March of this year was evidence that the 35-year-old has work to do if he’s going to add a fourth gold medal to his collection in Beijing this February.

"I don’t really let off the gas,” White said after pulling out of the X Games earlier this year with a knee injury. “You may not see me, but I’m still doing all the things that I need to.”

Australian Scotty James, Olympic bronze winner in 2018, is among White’s main challengers. So is 20-year-old TOTSUKA Yuto of Japan. The pair have been trading major competition titles for the last two years. And HIRANO Ayuma, twice an Olympic silver medallist, is eager to take it one step further this time around.

In men’s slopestyle/big air, 27-year-old Mark McMorris of Canada will be among the ones to watch, alongside Canada’s Max Parrot, who’s working back from his fight with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2018. Red Gerard of Team USA and Norway’s Marcus Kleveland will also be aiming near the front of the pack in this Olympic year.

Young stars: Henricksen and Aussie Baff look to kick over from Youth Games

When Dusty Henricksen won the 2021 Slopestyle Winter X Games, he became the first American champion since White in 2009. Still just 18, the California native is moving from strength to strength after winning slopestyle gold at the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games in Lausanne, Switzerland -- and he could well be among the top candidates to disrupt the established order.

On the women’s side, Japan’s ONO Mitsuki (halfpipe) and Australia’s snowboard cross phenom Josie Baff are also potential surprise packages after winning their own golds in Lausanne.

Dusty Henricksen of the United States goes over a rail during a warm up run the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals at the 2020 U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

2021/22 FIS Snowboard World Cup

  • Big Air - 23 October 2021 - Chur (SUI)
  • Snowboard Cross - 26-28 November 2021 - Secret Garden (CHN)
  • Big Air - 2-4 December 2021- Steamboat (USA)
  • Halfpipe/U.S. Grand Prix - December 2021 - Copper Mountain (USA)
  • Snowboard Cross - 10-12 - December 2021- Montafon (AUT)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom/Parallel Slalom - 11-12 December 2021 - Bannoye (RUS)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom - 16 December 2021 - Carezza (ITA)
  • Snowboard Cross - 17-18 December 2021 - Cervinia (ITA)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom - 18 December 2021 - Cortina d Ampezzo (ITA)
  • Slopestyle - 29 December 2021 - 2 January 2022 - Calgary (CAN)
  • Slopestyle/Halfpipe/U.S. Grand Prix - 6-8 January 2022 - Mammoth Mountain (USA)
  • Snowboard Cross - 7-9 January 2022 - Krasnoyarsk (RUS)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom - 8 January 2022 - Scuol (SUI)
  • Parallel Slalom/Parallel Slalom Team - 11-12 Janurary 2022 - Bad Gastein (AUT)
  • Halfpipe/Slopestyle - 13-15 January 2022 - Laax (SUI)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom - 15-16 January 2022 - Simonhöhe (AUT)
  • Snowboard Cross - 16 - 21 January 2022 - Chiesa in Valmalenco (ITA)
  • Winter X Games - 21-23 January 2022 - Buttermilk Mountain at Aspen Snowmass (USA)
  • Snowboard Cross - 24-29 January 2022 - Le Massif (CAN)
  • Parallel Slalom - 26 February 2022 - Moscow (RUS)
  • Slopestyle - 4-6 March 2022 - Bakuriani (GEO)
  • Parallel Giant Slalom - 5 March 2022 - Rogla (SLO)
  • Snowboard Cross - 10-12 March 2022 - Reiteralm (AUT)
  • Parallel Slalom - 12-13 March 2022 - Piancavallo (ITA)
  • Slopestyle - 18-19 March 2022 - Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE)
  • Parallel Slalom - 19-20 March 2022 - Berchtesgaden (GER)
  • Snowboard Cross - 20 March 2022 - Veysonnaz (SUI)

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