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      Issues: Snowboarding looks to make favorable Olympic debut. Top contenders:The Austrians, Swiss and Americans are among the powers in the sport along with the Canadians. Some of the stars from last season include Peter Pechhacker of Austria in men's slalom, Dan Smith of the U.S, in men's halfpipe while Calgary's Tara Teigen ended the season ranked number-one in women's halfpipe.
      Canadians: Canada is assured at least 12 entries, qualifying four spots in men's and women's halfpipe and men's giant slalom entering the 1997-98 season. No Canadian women have qualified spots yet for women's GS. The actual Olympic team will be selected based on a series of events which end in January. Canada is a power in women's halfpipe with Tara Teigen, currently ranked number-one in the world, Maelle Ricker and Natasza Zurek. In men's halfpipe Trevor Andrew is ranked third internationally. Mark Fawcett and Ross Rebagliati are also medal hopefuls in men's GS.
      The sport: There are several events in snowboarding but only two are featured in its Olympic debut: the giant slalom and the halfpipe for men and women. The GS is a race against the clock but unlike in alpine skiing the course is laid out symmetrically to ensure fairness for left footed or right footed snowboarders. In halfpipe the course is shaped like a cylinder. The boarders gain speed on the slope and jump over the rim to perform their manoeuvres. Five judges award scores for standard technique, rotation, height, landing and technical merit.