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Halfpipe preview: Can anyone challenge Shaun White?

Around the Games: Day 1 - 2014 Winter Olympic Games

during day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Al Bello

With injuries and shaky training runs in mind, Shaun White has at least looked fallible in men’s halfpipe ... but let’s face it, when it comes to this event, it’s White and everyone else.

Speaking of everyone else, the natural question for many is: who has a chance to keep White from becoming the first Winter Olympian to take gold in the same event three times in a row? presents some of the best nominees here.

Here’s a very abbreviated rundown of some other snowboarders to watch, but again, the detailed account is here.

Iouri Podladtchikov - After originally competing for Russia, “I-Pod” now competes for Switzerland, hopes to finally close the gap behind White. He’s pushing White thanks in part to what he calls the “Yolo flip,” described by the AP as “a double-cork 1440 — four full twists packed inside of two flips,” which is a half-twist more than White’s biggest trick from the last Olympics.

One might say he “lives” to push White, who reportedly is working on more elaborate tricks to combat Podladtchikov’s invention.

Greg Bretz - The U.S. snowboarder holds the rare distinction of actually beating White, as he did at the Dew Tour back in December. It’s tough to top that confidence-booster.

Danny Davis - Consider him the “wild card” of the halfpipe. While he doesn’t seem as technically focused as many other snowboarders, his more flowing approach could very well make him a threat. There’s a little bit of skateboarding icon Tony Alva’s spirit in Davis’ approach.

MORE: Bretz spurred by father’s support

Ayumu Hirano - At 15, Hirano might just be snowboarding’s next wunderkind. He’s the the youngest rider ever to win an FIS Snowboard World Cup and while his time might not necessarily be now, his future seems incredibly bright.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins