KRISTI LESKINEN SKI SLOPESTYLE
AGE 27 BASE Uniontown, Pa. HIT LIST SILVER 2007 Nippon Freeski Open slopestyle; BRONZE 2008 European Open slopestyle, 2005 Winter X ski superpipe
The week before 2007 Winter X, Leskinen broke a vertebra in her lower back. The week before 2008 Winter X, she suffered a concussion and bruised ribs while practicing halfpipe. Leskinen competed at X both years, but in 2008 she wore a stimunit on her ribs to manage the pain. She has a different plan for 2009: trade superpipe for the new women's slopestyle event-and, she says, "take it easy the week before the X Games."
EERO ETTALA SNOWBOARD SLOPESTYLE
AGE 24 BASE Helsinki, Finland HIT LIST Known for video parts (check out his double backside 1080 rodeo in the 2006 Mack Dawg film Follow Me Around)
Ettala tore his left ACL and MCL in January 2007 while attempting to backflip a 50-foot handrail in Finland. Good news: He stuck the landing. Bad news: Rehab took nearly two years, and Ettala was forced to ride with a brace until December. Best news: The knee is strong, confidence is restored and Ettala won slopestyle best trick Nov. 9 at the TTR contest in Austria.
T.J. SCHILLER SKI SLOPESTYLE, BIG AIR
AGE 22 BASE Vernon, B.C., Canada HIT LIST GOLD 2006 Winter X ski best trick, 2007 Freestyle.CH, World Skiing Invitational; SILVER 2006 European Freeskiing Open, World Skiing Invitational
After Schiller tore his right ACL in January 2008, doctors used part of his hamstring to repair it. Six months later, Schiller started dry-land work, and he hit his first jump in mid-December. "I learned a lot of tricks on the trampoline that I'm excited to bring to the snow," he says. His favorite: the double cork (a forwardtwisting flip with spins on both axes), which he'll unveil in slopestyle at Winter X.
HANNAH TETER SNOWBOARD SUPERPIPE
AGE 21 BASE South Lake Tahoe, Calif. HIT LIST GOLD 2006 Olympics halfpipe; three-time Winter X medalist
A month after the Olympics, Teter had surgery to repair a cracked left femur. At 2007 Winter X, she rebroke the bone, requiring a second surgery, which slowed her through the 2007-08 season. Now she has healthy limbs and a new focus: "Some people say injuries suck, but mine brought enlighten ment," says Teter. She used the downtime to think up ways to fund her charity, Hannah's Gold, which raises money for schools, wells and AIDS treatment facilities in Kirindon, Kenya. Teter's epiphany? She'll donate all of her contest winnings to the cause. Now, that's motivation.
DANNY DAVIS SNOWBOARD SUPERPIPE, SLOPESTYLE
AGE 20 BASE Highland, Mich. HIT LIST GOLD 2008 Breckenridge Winter Dew Tour; SILVER 2007 U.S. Open, World Superpipe Championships, Nippon Open
In May 2007, Davis broke his left ankle; eight months later he broke his right. Each required surgery, two months in a cast and three months of rehab. "I skateboarded and snowboarded all summer, and my ankles feel tip-top," Davis says now. Yes, they do: At the first Dew Tour stop, he won gold over Shaun White with a flawless-and entirely new-final run that included a soaring switch backside 720.
LUKE MITRANI SNOWBOARD SUPERPIPE
AGE 18 BASE Mammoth Lakes, Calif. HIT LIST SILVER 2008 Australian Open halfpipe; 2003-04 Burton European Open junior jam champ
Once called the next Shaun White, Mitrani has been more like the next Evel Knievel. While practicing before last year's Winter X, he racked up a concussion and torn ligaments in his right middle finger on separate falls. He still has a lump where a ligament failed to heal properly but says he's healthy and primed for a dream season: "There are endless halfpipe runs in my mind, and I can't wait to try them."