Pyeongchang 2018

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A slalom showdown and a Canadian big air affair – five key battles looming in PyeongChang

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 01:  The podium is filled with from left, silver medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, gold medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain, and bronze medalist Boyang Jin of China after the Men's Free Skate program during Day 5 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on April 1, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

PyeongChang is set to witness some of the great Olympic Winter Games clashes. Here are five of the best…

Slalom showdown

On his day, Henrik Kristoffersen is seemingly invincible when it comes to the slalom and, at the age of 23, he is likely to get even better in the most technical of alpine disciplines. He was an Olympic medallist in the event when he earned bronze at Sochi 2014, and managed five wins to Marcel Hirscher’s two in the slalom World Cup last season. But such is the level of consistency from the Austrian, who remarkably has never won Olympic gold, that he pipped his Norwegian rival to the end-of-season globe last time around.

The women’s skeleton

Lizzy Yarnold is the defending Olympic champion in the skeleton, the Briton completely in a league of her own in the competition four years ago. But having taken time out from the sport, she has yet to recapture her previous dominance. Yarnold, though, is expected to lead the fight against the German duo of Jacqueline Lölling and Tina Hermann, who between them have won the last two World Cup titles.

All-Canadian Big Air battle

Mark McMorris has become the benchmark in snowboarding with a series of X Games titles to his name although injury marred his attempts to win gold at the last Games in Russia. This time around he faces rivalry from fellow Canadian Max Parrot, with whom he was level pegging in last year’s Big Air World Cup standings. The pair have also chopped and changed with X Games titles in the event.

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The fight for ice supremacy

Yuzuru Hanyu has sent the standard in men’s figure skating and was the Olympic champion at the age of just 18 in 2014. He is also a two-time world champion, having added a second world title this year to the one he managed in 2014. But he faces intense rivalry from Spanish skater Javier Fernandez, who also happens to be his training partner. The older of the two at 26, Fernandez won the world gold in 2015 and 2016 but just finished out of the medals in Sochi 2014.

The speed stakes on ice

The 500m speed skating event is for the Usain Bolt’s of the skating world, and PyeongChang is nicely teed up in the women’s event with a fierce rivalry between Canada’s Marianne St-Gelais and British racer Elise Christie. The top two in the World Cup standings last year in the event, both have had very contrasting Olympic experiences at Sochi, St-Gelais winning three medals (all silver), while Christie’s Games debut was without medals but full of heartache.

 

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