Hot games to watch at the Sochi Winter Olympics

The Olympic flame is tested in its cauldron in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome on the Olympic Park as preparations continue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics,  on Jan 29, 2014. The Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is kicking off,
The Olympic flame is tested in its cauldron in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome on the Olympic Park as preparations continue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics,  on Jan 29, 2014. The Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is kicking off, on Feb 7, 2014. While winter games may seem foreign to most Singaporeans, they make for some great viewing. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is kicking off on Feb 7.

While winter games may seem foreign to most Singaporeans, they make for some great viewing.

Here are some cool picks of the hottest games to watch.

1. Snowboarding

Judging from past history, the three countries vying for the top spots in the eight categories for snowboarding will be Canada, Switzerland and the United States.

American snowboarder Shaun White, 27, who has already won two golds in previous Olympics for his speciality, the halfpipe, is looking to score a hattrick this year.

Watch the top male medallists competing at the Vancouver 2010 games.

The women snowboarders are no slouches either in the halfpipe event. The American Olympic gold medallists Kelly Clark, 31, and Hannah Teter, 27, will be looking to unseat Australian Torah Bright, 28, who clinched the crown in 2010 with this stellar halfpipe routine.

2. Ski cross

Introduced at the last Winter Olympics, this is like a Formula One take on skiing: Four competitors take off down a course that involves jumps and banks. This is the sports to watch for plenty of thrills and spills. Check out the crashes at the last Olympics men's final event:

The women had it even tougher as the snow was really pelting down at their finals:

3. Figure skating

All eyes will be on the women's figure skating where the final showdown between Japan's Mao Asada and Korea's Kim Yu-na will happen. Both women have announced their intentions to retire, so that will be Asada's last chance to beat Kim to the top podium spot.

http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/sports/story/olympic-face-japa...

But men's event might throw up some shockers this year. The United States' Evan Lysacek, Russia's Evgeni Plushenko and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi claimed the top three spots at Vancouver.

Plushenko, at 31, is the senior and has injury issues, which means he could fall out of contention. Lysacek, 28, suffered a labrum tear in his hip so he has not qualified for Sochi. That leaves just Takahashi, 28, the last man standing although his qualification was a close call. He performed poorly at the 2013 Japanese Nationals at fifth place.

That leaves the field open for other young hopefuls.

Canada is pinning its hopes for a gold on 23-year-old Patrick Chan.

Japan's new medal contender is 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu, who won the Japanese Figure Skating Championships last year with enough flair to make him a serious challenge for the Olympic crown.

The United States' Jeremy Abbott will be looking to earn his first Olympic medal. At 28, he has been gaining momentum, culminating in this flawless performance in Boston for the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships.

4. Skeleton racing

It looks deceptively basic - it's essentially the adult version of tobogganing. But these athletes, sliding through an ice course on sleek steel sleds can reach speeds of more than 140kmh. Check out the highlights of the men's event at Vancouver.

The highlights of the women's run can be seen here.

5. Freestyle Skiing Aerials

There's skiing, then there's freestyle skiing aerials, in which skiers take off down a short slope, up a steep curve and flip through the air in full somersaults before landing. Brace yourselves for thrills and possible spills too.

Here's a sampling from the Vancouver games.

The men's aerials

The complete women aerials event is also available online.