Earlier this week, my colleague Randy made his predictions for some of surfing’s biggest events. Today, I’m looking at riders of a different nature, ones who do their best work on ice and snow.
At the beginning of every odd numbered year, the world’s greatest freestyle skiers and snowboarders gather for the FIS World Championships. While not all disciplines compete at the same venue, they all take place at roughly the same time of year. (This year, they’ll congregate in Sierra Nevada, Spain, from March 6-19.)
I may not be able to shred the gnar with these supreme athletes at the Sierra Nevada Ski Station, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the difference between a gaper who gets all squirrely in the spotlight, and someone who stomps their tricks with some crunchy steez.
So chill out and take in my predictions for some of the bigger story lines at the upcoming World Championships. Sound good, brah?
Ski and Snowboard Medal Predictions for the 2017 World Championships
Lindsey Jacobellis will win her fifth gold in snowboard cross
No woman has dominated any snowboarding event the way American Lindsey Jacobellis has crushed snowboard cross. Although she has not enjoyed the same success at the Winter Olympics, Jacobellis has owned the World Championships and the Winter X Games. The 31-year-old has won four of the last six gold medals in snowboard cross at the World Championships, while winning gold in ten of the last 14 snowboard cross events at the Winter X Games.
Unfortunately, her desire to “have fun” cost her the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and she was the victim of some unlucky events at the previous two games.
But this won’t be the case when she competes at the World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, this January. Jacobellis will take home the gold in snowboard cross, and she’ll also claim the gold at the 2017 Winter X Games, as well.
Austria will tie France in all-time medals at the FIS Snowboard World Championships
France not only leads the total medal count (46) at the FIS Snowboard World Championships, but they have also won more gold medals (18) than any other country since the event’s birth in 1996. However, that’s not due to recent success. Instead, they have Isabelle Blanc (now 41 years old), Doriane Vidal (40), and Karine Ruby (who died in a tragic climbing accident in 2009) to thank.
In fact, France has not won a single medal in the men’s competitions since 2009, and have only claimed three medals in the women’s competitions over the last two World Championships.
Meanwhile, Austria sits in second in total medals with 44, and will be able to take control at the 2017 championships. France may have Nelly Moenne Loccoz, who will pose as Jacobellis’ biggest threat in the snowboard cross, but outside of her, there are no other competitors who are medal favorites.
Austria, on the other hand, have Alex Pullin, who is a heavy favorite to medal in the men’s snowboard cross, and youngster Scotty James, who won gold in the halfpipe at the 2015 World Championships.
These two men will both finish top-three at the 2017 World Championships, while France fails to collect a single medal at the event.
Mikael Kingsbury will win gold in moguls and dual moguls
At just 24 years old, Kingsbury is already one of the most decorated mogul skiers of all-time. The Canadian has competed in six events at the World Championships over the last three years and he’s medalled in all of them. He is the only man to win gold in both the moguls and dual moguls events.
Kingsbury has also been dominant at the Freestyle World Cup, winning 33 gold medals (53 total), and even has an Olympic silver medal to his name.
It seems the only thing Kingsbury has yet to do is win both the moguls and dual moguls in the same year. He’ll cross that off the list in 2017 in Spain. Kingsbury will dethrone Anthony Benna for the moguls gold, and will fend off fellow Canadians Philippe Marquis and Marc-Antoine Gagnon in dual moguls.
Norway will win double-digit gold medals at the Nordic World Ski Championships
When you think Nordic skiing, the first name that comes to mind is Norway. The country has dominated the discipline, earning 324 total medals at the World Championship. The next closest is Finland with 195. If that’s not impressive enough, their 126 gold medals is more than double the next country in the standings (again Finland with 62; where you at Sweden?).
In 2015, Norway won 20 total medals at the Nordic World Ski Championships, 11 of which were gold. This was up from the 19 total medals and eight gold in 2013.
With expectations through the roof for the 2017 World Championships (Feb. 22-Mar.5 in Lahti, Finland), Norway will deliver and bring home another double-digit gold medal haul. Petter Northug, one of the greatest cross country skiers of all-time, will be back to compete for the men, while Therese Johaug and Marit Bjorgen will battle it out on the women’s side.
Photo credit: 73.santi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.