Commentary

Teens rev up for Winter X

Updated: January 26, 2012, 7:52 AM ET
By Grace Coryell

Winter X Games
Vianney Tisseau/ESPN ImagesSage Kotsenburg

Sage Kotsenburg

Hometown: Park City, Utah
Events: Men's Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle
Bio: The youngest rider ever to win the overall AST Dew Tour Cup, the 18-year-old Kotsenburg is currently one of the hottest up-and-coming Snowboard Slopestyle athletes. Following his brother Blaze's footsteps to the world of professional snowboarding, Kotsenburg entered his first pro competition in 2009, taking home second place at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge and going on to take second place in the overall Dew Tour Cup standings for 2009. In 2010, Kotsenburg landed on the podium at every Winter Dew Tour stop on his way to winning the overall Slopestyle Dew Tour title. In his rookie appearance at the Winter X Games in 2010, Kotsenburg was the youngest rider in the Slopestyle final, finishing in fifth place. A few weeks later, Kotsenburg got another chance to win Winter X hardware when he traveled to Tignes to take home the Snowboard Slopestyle silver at the inaugural Winter X Games Europe. In 2011, Kotsenburg returned to Winter X Games to win the bronze medal in Snowboard Big Air with a Cab Double Cork 1260. Finishing up his final credits to earn his high school diploma, Kotsenburg landed the first Cab Double Cork 1440 in February 2011 and will be bringing big tricks to Winter X Games.

Winter X Games
Peter Morning/ESPN ImagesTyler Flanagan

Tyler Flanagan

Hometown: Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Events: Men's Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle
Bio: Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Flanagan was part of the only under-18 podium sweep at Winter X last year when he took the bronze medal in the Snowboard Slopestyle competition. He's back this year for his third X Games and hoping to earn some more time on the podium. Known for his big spins, including several variations of the double cork, Flanagan began snowboarding during an era of amazingly quick snowboard progression. He showed off his Slopestyle skills when he won the 2009-10 season-opening Winter Dew Tour stop at Breckenridge. He followed up his first-place performance with a second-place run a few weeks later at the Utah Winter Dew Tour stop. He finished the season in third place overall on the Winter Dew Tour Slopestyle standings. He made his first Winter X Games appearance in 2010, making the final in Snowboard Big Air and placing fifth. Flanagan, 18, and his family moved to Mammoth Lakes, Calif., after he won his first USASA competition.

Winter X Games
C. Van Hanja/ESPN ImagesTorin Yater-Wallace

Torin Yater-Wallace

Hometown: Aspen, Colo.
Events: Men's Skiing SuperPipe
Video: Yater-Wallace takes silver at X Games 15
Bio: He's only 16, but Yater-Wallace already has earned a Ski SuperPipe silver medal at Winter X Games 15 and a bronze medal at Winter X Games Europe. The youngest competitor at Winter X Games 15, Yater-Wallace became the youngest medalist in Winter X Games history when he took home the silver when he was 15 years and 1 month. He comes into this year's X Games on a roll, having won his first professional competition at this past weekend's Killington Dew Tour. Now a sophomore at Aspen (Colo.), Yater-Wallace was the winner of the 2010 Gatorade Free Flow Finals and was selected for the Denver Post Youth Excellence in Sports award. Last year, Yater-Wallace went on to win two USSA divisional qualifiers to make the national championships. An Aspen native, Yater-Wallace's grandfather was one of the first commercial surfboard builders and runs a surfboard company in Santa Barbra, Calif., which Yater-Wallace visits to surf.

Nick Goepper

Hometown: Lawrenceburg, Ind.
Events: Men's Skiing Slopestyle
Bio: Making his Winter X Games debut in Aspen, the 17-year-old Goepper has shown over the past season that he is one to watch in the Skiing Slopestyle competition. Beginning with third-place finishes at the North Face Park and Pipe and the Killington Dew Tour stop, Goepper finished a breakout season with a win at the Dumont Cup and third place at the New Zealand Winter Games. He got off to a good start this season, finishing second at the December Breckenridge Dew Tour stop. Goepper competed at Winter X Games Europe in 2011, taking 13th in the Skiing Slopestyle competition. The only student on full scholarship at Windells Academy in Oregon, Goepper released his first video edit at age 12 and landed his first double flip at age 13.

Winter X Games
Christian Pondella/ESPN ImagesMark McMorris

Mark McMorris

Hometown: Montreal, QC, Canada
Events: Men's Snowboard Big Air and Slopestyle
Video: McMorris captures silver at Winter X 15
Bio: McMorris, 18, took home the silver in the Winter X Games Snowboard Slopestyle a year ago and finished just off the podium in the Snowboard Big Air Competition. He started the 2010-11 season with a bang, taking second place at both the O'Neil Evolution and Winter Dew Tour Breckenridge Slopestyle competitions. He finished the season in second place in the final Winter Dew Tour Snowboard Slopestyle standings. McMorris enjoyed a breakout season in 2009-10, winning the Quebec stop of the Empire Shakedown, taking third place at the Billabong Ante Up event and winning the FIS World Cup Slopestyle event. Also a competitive wakeboarder, McMorris became the first person to land a backside triple cork 1440 in March 2011.

Thomas Krief

Hometown: Alpe D'Huez, France
Events: Men's Skiing SuperPipe
Bio: Part of the growing contingent of French Ski SuperPipe stars, the 18-year-old Krief finished a strong fifth in his rookie debut at Winter X Games in 2011. Home-schooled so he can focus on skiing, Krief travels and trains with fellow Frenchmen Xavier Bertoni and Kevin Rolland. A quick study, Krief is quickly ascending the Ski SuperPipe ranks as a result of training with Xavier and Kevin. In 2010, Krief competed at the inaugural Winter X Games Europe event, where he finished 11th in the Ski SuperPipe competition. In 2011, Krief earned a fourth-place finish at the Breckenridge Dew Tour and a fifth-place finish at Winter X Games Europe. He also finished third overall in the final Winter Dew Tour Ski SuperPipe standings.

Winter X Games
Tomas Zuccareno/Shazamm/ESPN ImagesMaddy Schaffrick

Maddy Schaffrick

Hometown: Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Events: Women's Snowboard SuperPipe
Bio: The 17-year-old Schaffrick already is a Winter X Games veteran. She competed in her first Winter X Games at just 14, and was the youngest competitor in the field in both 2009 and 2010. After missing last year's X Games with an injury, Schaffrick is returning to Aspen for her third Winter X Games, and she has a strong list of tricks at her disposal. After a second-place finish at the West Dover Dew Tour stop in 2010, Schaffrick started this season off right, placing second in the U.S. Grand Prix. Now in her senior year at Steamboat Springs (Colo.), Schaffrick will look to land on the X Games podium for the first time this weekend.

Rose Battersby

Hometown: Taupo, New Zealand
Events: Women's Skiing Slopestyle
Bio: A Winter X Games rookie, the 18-year-old Battersby started her competitive career at the Mini X Games in Happy Valley when she was 11 years old. Graduating from a high school in New Zealand called Tauhara College in June 2011, Battersby moved to the United States to chase the snow. Currently residing in Frisco, Colo., she will make her X Games debut in Aspen in the Skiing Slopestyle competition.

Winter X Games
C. Van Hanja/ESPN ImagesDevin Logan

Devin Logan

Hometown: West Dover, Vt.
Events: Women's Skiing SuperPipe and Slopestyle
Bio: The 18-year-old Logan has taken the women's freeski scene by storm. In her first Winter X Games last year, she was the only female to compete in both Skiing SuperPipe and Slopestyle. A few weeks after her rookie debut at Winter X Games 15, Devin proved her skills at Winter X Games Europe, winning bronze in the Skiing SuperPipe competition. With wins at the New Zealand Winter Games, New Zealand Open and a second-place finish at the Dew Tour Ogden stop under her belt, Logan finished the season with a bang as she won the overall year-end AFP World title. Recently graduating from Twin Valley (Wilmington, Vt.), look for Logan to medal in both SuperPipe and Slopestyle.

Cai Xuetong

Hometown: Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
Events: Women's Snowboard SuperPipe
Bio: The only Chinese rider in the Women's Snowboard SuperPipe competition, the 18-year-old Cai already has put together an impressive resume of contest wins. After finishing atop the 2010 FIS World Cup year-end standings, Cai went on to represent China in the Vancouver Winter Olympics as the youngest rider in the field. Last season, she added wins at three FIS World Cup stops and a third-place finish at the Breckenridge Dew Tour. Making her Winter X Games debut this year, Cai graduated high school in 2009.

Winter X Games
Courtesy of Maddie BowmanMaddie Bowman

Maddie Bowman

Hometown: South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Events: Women's SuperPipe
Bio: The youngest female competitor at Winter X Games 15, Bowman finished in eighth place in the Skiing SuperPipe competition. In 2011, Bowman finished in fourth place at the North Face Park and Pipe and Dew Tour stop in Utah. She finished in third place at the U.S. Freestyle Championships and the New Zealand Winter Games. Now a senior at South Lake Tahoe (Lake Tahoe, Calif.), the 18-year-old Bowman returns to Winter X Games hoping to improve upon her eighth-place finish. She's coming in with confidence after taking the title at this past weekend's Killington Dew Tour.

Dara Howell

Hometown: Huntsville, Ont., Canada
Events: Women's Skiing Slopestyle
Bio: At just 17, Howell is the youngest woman on the Skiing Slopestyle roster. Howell first turned heads when she finished in second place at the March 2011 U.S. Freestyle Championships in Stratton. She backed up that performance with a third-place finish at the New Zealand Winter Games in August 2011. Howell, a Winter X Games rookie, attends Huntsville High School (Ontario, Canada) and will graduate later this year.

Silje Norendal

Hometown: Kongsberg, Norway
Events: Women's Snowboard Slopestyle
Bio: Norendal, who just turned 19, will be making her Aspen debut. When she was 17, Norendal became the youngest rider in the Snowboard Slopestyle field at Winter X Games Europe 2011. However, that didn't stop her from taking a podium spot as she won silver. Since taking up snowboarding at age 4, Norendal attended the Norwegian Snowboarding Academy in Norway and spent her summers chasing snow in the Southern Hemisphere. Norendal is currently in her final year of high school.