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Kaitlyn Farrington

When Kaitlyn Farrington was nominated to the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team at Mammoth Mountain, CA in mid-January, people took to the U.S. Snowboarding Team's homepage to learn more about the halfpipe star who had stolen two-time Olympian Elena Hight's place on the roster. Many were surprised to find out that Farrington didn't have a bio. In fact, the 24-year-old, who was raised on a Sun Valley cattle ranch in Idaho, isn't even a member of the national team.

“When I was 17, I joined the U.S. snowboarding rookie team, but when I turned 20, I decided to quit to work with two elite coaches, Elijah Teter and Ben Boyd, at the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. I had worked really well with these coaches in the past and I thought it would be better for my career to train with them than to be on the team,”  explains Farrington, who started competing at age 11 (her dad sold a cow a week to fund her trips to contests).

While the bold move perplexed her peers and, even more so, her parents, who thought she was giving up her Olympic dreams, Farrington proved that she didn't need to be on the national team to earn her ticket to Sochi. She's spent quite a bit of time on podiums, including medaling at the 2010 and 2011 Dew Tours, 2012 U.S. Grand Prix, 2013 World Cup, and 2010, 2011 and 2014 X Games Aspen.

Her unconventional route to the top doesn't end there. This past fall, many folks told Farrington she was crazy for spending two whole months training in New Zealand. “People were like, 'I can't believe you're just wasting money down there.' And I was like, 'No, I got a lot out of it.' I needed to spend that much time on the snow.” The young, super-chill contender has a knack for knowing exactly what she needs.

It doesn't hurt that Farrington also carries with her a big bag full of technical tricks, including McTwists, cab maneuvers, and backside 900s. “If I land my run–and I know it's a good run–it will do well,” she says confidently. If she's able to successfully pull out all the stops in Sochi, her first-ever Winter Games, Farrington won't need a bio page anywhere. The world will know exactly who she is. —Cristina Goyanes