Snowboarding has never been more popular than it is right now. Despite being one of the planet’s newer sports and being overlooked for the likes of skiing for decades, it now finds itself with a spot in the Winter Olympics.
Snowboarding events on the grandest stage have become some of the most watched parts of the sporting extravaganza every four years, and last year’s Beijing games featured 11 board events, the most in history.
In the coming years, that number will continue to grow. But who will be competing for medals? Will it be one of these four who are arguably the finest snowboarders in the world at present?
1. Marcus Kleveland
Hailing from Norway, Marcus Kleveland is one of the most innovative and creative snowboarders around. He’s just 24 years old but has already made a name for himself, and as he is just beginning to come into his prime, his reputation will only grow.
The Lillehammer-born star has showcased his skillset and insane tricks in contests such as X Games – where he has won an astounding eight gold medals – the Dew Tour and the Burton US Open.
The maneuvers he’s executed have never been done before and include the infamous ‘quad cork’, which is a quad flip off of the kicker followed by a 270-degree spin.
He is the current world number one, and a popular bookmaker, Bovada, currently makes him a -105 favorite to win the gold medal in the Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle at the upcoming Aspen X-Games.
2. Sven Thorgren
Another rider from Scandinavia, Sven Thorgren, is a true style icon. He’s one of the most technically sound riders on the planet. His combination of style, control, and difficulty make him a formidable competitor in any contest he enters.
The Swedish sensation has an impressive list of accomplishments, which includes winning the Air and Style contest in Innsbruck. With his signature frontside rodeo 1440 grabs and spins, he always puts on a show for the paying public.
The 29-year-old burst onto the scene back in 2017 when he won the SlopeStyle event at the X-Games in neighboring Norway. However, he has never reached the top step of the podium since.
He has twice finished as a runner-up as well as picked up numerous bronze medals, with the most recent of them coming in Aspen in 2022. But a late career renaissance could be just around the corner having climbed up to fourth place in the current rankings.
3. Chris Corning
The United States is home to some of the best snowboarders in the world, with the greatest of all time, three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, hailing from the country. Chris Corning is looking to follow in his footsteps.
The 24-year-old has made a name for himself in the snowboarding world with his powerful riding style and amazing aerial tricks. He finished the 2020 season as the top-ranked snowboarder on the FIS World Cup circuit, and he also won a Slopestyle gold medal at the X Games in 2019.
He’s the youngest of our top five but he’s already made his mark in the professional snowboarding industry. Corning has a few signature tricks to his name, including the ‘Triple Cork 1440,’ which is a triple backflip while squeezing in four 360-degree rotations.
You can catch Corning in action at any of the major international halfpipe contests, where he will be aiming to reach the top step of the podium for the first time since his 2019 success in Salt Lake City.
4. Mark McMorris
Last, but certainly not least, is Canada’s Mark McMorris. He is a household name in the snowboarding world, and for good reason. The 30-year-old has won numerous medals in the X Games and the Olympics, including two bronze medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in Big Air and Slopestyle.
The last rider on our list has truly come back from the brink. He suffered from a crash that caused life-threatening injuries, including a broken jaw, arm, and multiple fractures at Shaun White’s Air + Style Big Air in Los Angeles way back in 2016.
But after a year of rehab, he made an epic comeback in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea where he picked up his second of three straight bronze medals.
Notably, the Canadian star etched his name in snowboarding history by successfully landing a Backside Triple Cork 1440 while filming Transworld Snowboarding’s “Park Sessions” video in March 2011.
Adding to his already impressive track record, he achieved another groundbreaking feat on April 28, 2018, when he executed the world’s first Double Cork off a rail, known as the Front-Board Double Cork 1170, with an elegantly executed melancholy grab.
If that wasn’t enough, the veteran has left an indelible impression on significant events like the X-Games, securing consecutive gold medals in the slopestyle event in 2012 and 2013.
In a triumphant return in 2023, Mark successfully defended his Winter X Games gold medal in the men’s slopestyle event, establishing an astonishing record of 22 medals, the highest in Winter X Games history. He is looking to crack into the top ten of the world rankings and claim his maiden Olympic gold medal in the not-so-distant future.
The sport of snowboarding continues its meteoric rise, propelled forward by the creativity and athleticism of its top riders. Executing maneuvers never before imagined, let alone attempted, these athletes display immense talent and grit.
Marcus Kleveland, the 24-year-old Norwegian wunderkind, already owns eight X Games gold medals. Sven Thorgren, the 29-year-old Swedish stylist, memorably won the 2017 X Games Norway SlopeStyle event.
Chris Corning, the 24-year-old American, took slopestyle gold at the 2019 X Games. And 30-year-old Canadian legend Mark McMorris holds the record for most Winter X Games medals at 22.
With their jaw-dropping tricks and determination to progress the sport, Kleveland, Thorgren, Corning and McMorris have pushed snowboarding to remarkable new heights. As they enter their prime competitive years, expect to see these four continue to make history on slopes around the world.
Their daring athleticism and visionary riding will no doubt inspire future generations to imagine the possibilities on a snowboard. Snowboarding’s future shines bright, led by the skills and innovation of today’s top athletes.