Age 19, Saint-Boniface, Quebec
Style in competition; that’s the age-old debate. Does perceived style add to the overall score? Can a skier make a technical run look smooth and unique? Alex Bellemare, product of Quebec and a Level 1 journeyman, can. Sure, he’s a small kid who is relatively inexperienced at competing. He’d rather spend his time hitting urban. But think about it, he parlayed a random Euro X invite in to a fifth place finish and a Dew Tour invite into a sixth. He outgunned stylish comp skiers Casabon and Harlaut. He’s only going to get better and better, hitting his prime right around February 2014.
Age 20, Calgary, Alberta
Noah Bowman was an alternate at the start of Winter X Games 16 last year. By the conclusion, he was a bona fide silver medalist. Luck and circumstance may have given him the chance, but confidence to compete and insane natural talent are what put him on that superpipe podium. His ability to ride switch in the pipe is off the charts. He’s got a double flip that no one can step to. He’s as co sistent as anyone on tour. Last year he was hoping to get his shot at the big time; this year, he’ll be shaping what’s possible in the superpipe.
Age 22, Carmel, California
She’s bubbly. She’s bright eyed. She’s in college. You know what else? She’s a two-time Winter X medalist, she won a Dew Tour and she can do 1080s like nothing. She’s got the amplitude to back up her big tricks. She can take a hit and get back up. She’s what women’s pipe skiers nowadays should be: determined, driven and not afraid to lay it on the line under the lights. Sarah Burke’s passing left a giant void in women’s halfpipe skiing that’ll never fully be filled, but with girls like Brita hitting their stride, the sport is in more than capable hands.
Age 17, Fischental, Switzerland
Kai is the latest competition prospect to come out of the European ranks. At 17, he’s logged seven major big-air podiums, becoming the second youngest Winter X ski medalist in the process. The Swiss youngster has a polite demeanor, but on course, he’s anything but reserved. Kai brings an aggressive style to big air, jumping with a unique blend of trick difficulty and individual style. But he’s not out there forcing too big of tricks on small features, and he’s not tripling just for the sake of tripling. Or as one of his competitors said, “He’s just a grade-A boss.”