As the world collectively hums the Olympic theme song in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the spotlight that shines on Aspen, Colo., each winter was wired with a once-every-four-years wattage. So Winter X upped the ante and super-sized the already SuperPipe, jacked up the X Course and invented Ski High Air. Shoot, we even built a human snow globe; all this for some very special guests. Sure, you knew that 54 percent of Winter X 14 ski and snowboard competitors are also 2010 Olympians. Sure, you had your eye on Shaun White, Lindsey Jacobellis, Daron Rahlves, Gretchen Bleiler, Seth Wescott and Kelly Clark. And of course you're stoked to be seeing them again in three weeks. But you already knew that, because you already knew them. Here's an enlightening look at the fresh meat that impressed at Winter X 14. These up-and-comers smell like a new box of crayons, and they're about to scribble their steeze all over the future.
1. Bobby Brown
The 18-year-old, Breck-based Bobby Brown -- in only his second year at Winter X -- became the first skier to win two events in the same year (Big Air and SlopeStyle). Brown flashed the acute precision you'd expect from an elder statesmen with the flair of a kid who's fresh out of high school. Throwing the trick of the Games (a switch double misty 1440) on his way to some of the highest marks in history, we're not surprised he earned two perfect scores and the 2010 Big Air title. We're just shocked that he's just getting started.
Iceland's Helgason broke out this year like Eastwood out of Alcatraz. The 19-year-old had a part in Standard Film's new movie, which earned him Snowboarder Magazine's Rookie Of The Year. More recently, he won TransWorld's rookie award, too. And even more recently than that, he blew minds with a perfect score in the Snowboard Big Air. All of that is plenty impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the Sharpie mustache he rocked throughout the competition.
3. Jen Hudak
Jen Hudak, 23, of Aspen, Colo., took the gold in the Women's Skiing SuperPipe, besting her silver-medal finish from '09 and stopping the streak of Canadian Sarah Burke. Burke won the last three gold medals in the event and was on course for another until Hudak -- who had been to Winter X six times -- finally put some gold in her purse. Who dat? Jen Hudak. Now you know.
Switzerland's Olympic assassin, Iouri "iPod" Podladtchikov made Shaun White earn his SuperPipe three-peat at WX14. I-Pod was spot-on in 2010, and while his tricks always had our attention, it's his hammy personality that has our hearts. He leads the pack in close pursuit of Shaun and we look forward to their rendezvous next month in Vancouver.
5. Mikkel Bang
The Norwegian Winter X 2009 SlopeStyle bronze medalist finished third in the 2009 Winter Dew Tour overall rankings and came back to Winter X in 2010 for a bronze in Big Air. While third place doesn't usually knock our heads back, by all accounts this 6-foot-2 tower of talent will soon snap the tres curse and graduate to shinier, sexier metals. Heck, he just graduated high school in May of last year, so give him a sec.
Last year, France's Xavier Bertoni came out of nowhere to upset perennials Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall in Ski SuperPipe. This year, we got to know his BFF. For more on the garcons garnering all the attention, tune into their biweekly Web series called "Follow Us." As for the title of "Flying Frenchman"? Roland's got that one locked up for the time being.
7. The Moore Brothers
The tale of the Moore brothers, from Krum, Texas, will be known far and wide after WX14: two professional ATV freestylers who tried sleds on a lark and found themselves competing in front of the world at Aspen. Caleb earned bronze in Freestyle, while brother Colten's performance underscored to all: These two are for real.
8. Greg Bretz
The youngest member of the men's 2010 U.S. Olympic Halfpipe team, the 19-year-old from Mammoth earned his spot by finishing in the top five in four-out-of-five contests throughout the Grand Prix season. In Aspen, he confidently flaunted the trick du jour double cork, and for his efforts he earned fourth in the SuperPipe -- beating heavyweights like Steve Fisher, Luke Mitrani and the Tiny Dancer, Louie Vito. Could his big breakthrough come in Vancouver? The timing would be perfect.
9. Chris Del Bosco
When Del Bosco was 17, he was kicked off the U.S. Ski Team when he tested positive for marijuana. Five years ago, he blacked out from drinking, fell in a frozen creek, and nearly died when he broke his neck. These days, Del Bosco is sober, serious and absolutely ripping. He'll represent Canada at the Olympics as a member of their Ski Cross team, and he'll bring his first-ever Winter X hardware -- a Skier X gold -- with him. At 27, Del Bosco is no kid. But it's never too late to start over.
10. Eero Ettala
You won't see the 25-year-old from Helsinki on too many start sheets, because he prefers cruising for films over competing for podiums. But when the kid comes out of backcountry hiding, we're all the better for it. Here's to hoping the taste of gold that Ettala earned in Snowboard SlopeStyle this year is enough to ensure he'll be back in Aspen one year from now, defending his title.