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2014 Sochi Olympics: Five Female Freestyle Skiers to Watch

Yahoo Contributor Network

When the women take to the hill for freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the action should be exciting to watch as some of the best and brightest will be taking center stage.

As you watch the events, here are five female skiers that you need to keep an eye on:

Lydia Lassila, Australia

Lassila will be looking to defend her Olympic gold medal in aerials this coming February. In recent World Cup action in Canada, she placed first in the event. In 11 World Cup competitions since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, she's placed in the top 10 in aerials eight times.

Hannah Kearney, United States of America

It's hard to find a competitor that has been as dominant in her event as Kearney has been in women's moguls. Since winning the gold at the Vancouver Olympics, she's won 32 World Cup moguls races. The New Hampshire native is certainly a favorite to repeat as the gold medalist.

Xu Mengtao, China

If Lassila wants to repeat in aerials, she's going to face some fierce competition in China's Xu Mengtao. Since placing sixth at the 2010 Olympic Games, Mengtao has gone on a tear on the World Cup circuit. She's finished in the top 5 in 21 out of 22 events, including 12 first-place finishes.

Kaya Turski, Canada

The Montreal native will be going into her first ever Olympic Games, and she'll be one to watch in slopestyle. After a second-place finish at the World Ski Championships in 2011, she took home first place this past year in Norway. This is the first year for slopestyle, and don't be surprised if this Canadian takes home the inaugural gold medal.

Li Nina, China

Back in 2010, Li Nina was favored to win the gold medal in aerials but finished second. This year, she'll have to battle with countrywoman Mengtao and the Aussie Lassila to make that happen. In 2013, Nina was injured and missed part of the World Cup season, but she returned strong at the end of the year. She won the World Cup event in China and finished second at the most recent one in Canada.

Nina has been a bridesmaid twice at the Olympic Games. She's finished second back-to-back times, and she's hoping that third time's a charm in 2014.

When the Games begin on February 6, make sure you've got your DVR set to remind you when these ladies take the stage. They are some of the all-time greats in their sport, and you won't want to miss it when they take to the slopes.

Brian Skinnell is a contributor for RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports covering the Washington Redskins, Wizards and NASCAR among others. He's been closely following the Olympics since he was a young boy and has contributed to the Olympics coverage at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.

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