Kokomo Murase is one of Japan's top gold medal hopes at Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

Japan's freestyle snowboard stars Ayumu Hirano and Kokomo Murase lead hopes for their nation prior to action starting tomorrow at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Murase will start as the favourite in the women's slopestyle, with qualification set to begin tomorrow.

However, little separates the top names, with The Netherlands' Melissa Peperkamp and season World Cup winners Jamie Anderson from the United States and Australia's Tess Coady among the favourites.

Reira Iwabuchi will be a threat to team mate Murase, as will Zoi Sadowski-Synnott from New Zealand and Austrian Anna Gasser.

Olympic big air champion Gasser will also battle the Japanese pair in defence of her title, with the event taking place at Big Air Shougang in Beijing.

Home favouritism in the halfpipe lies with Cai Xuetong, who is a two-time world champion in the discipline, but she must overcome Olympic champion, American Chloe Kim, who has also won the last two world titles.

Japanese sisters Sena and Ruki Tomita could feature in the medals too, as well as Spaniard and double world medallist Queralt Castellet.

Hirano and his unrelated team mate Ruka Hirano are the top snowboard freestylers this season, both specialising in halfpipe.

Between them, they have won all three halfpipe events this season on the World Cup circuit, but the gold medal for Japan is not a guarantee, with three-time Olympic champion Shaun White of the United States still a threat even in his fifth appearance at the Games, as the defending gold medallist.

Shaun White has won the men's snowboard halfpipe discipline three times at the Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Shaun White has won the men's snowboard halfpipe discipline three times at the Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Jan Scherrer of Switzerland is the 2021 bronze medallist in the discipline too, while Scotty James from Australia will look to improve on his bronze from 2018.

Canadian Sébastien Toutant will be defending his big air Olympic title, with World Cup winners Jonas Boesiger of Switzerland and China's Su Yiming considering themselves contenders.

American Red Gerard is the defending slopestyle champion, while Toutant will be looking to win another discipline gold medal, considering his form in the World Cup.

Britain's Charlotte Bankes and Michela Moioli of Italy are the two standouts in the women's snowboard cross, having won five of the six races this season so far.

Only Eva Samková of the Czech Republic, the Sochi 2014 Olympic champion, has otherwise won but she will miss the Games with an injury.

Moioli will be hoping to win back-to-back golds.

Martin Nörl of Germany has won the last three men's snowboard cross World Cup races and will go head-to-head with Alessandro Hämmerle of Austria, who has two wins to his name.

Hämmerle's compatriot Jakob Dusek will be a contender too, as will Spain's Lucas Eguibar, the world champion.

Éliot Grondin of Canada is a rising star also vying for the podium.

Michela Moioli of Italy is the defending women's snowboard cross Olympic champion ©Getty Images
Michela Moioli of Italy is the defending women's snowboard cross Olympic champion ©Getty Images

The men's parallel event is open wide, but Lee Sang-ho of South Korea is the World Cup leader, showing consistency this season.

Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) Dmitry Loginov, Andreas Prommegger of Austria, Switzerland's Dario Caviezel and Germany's Stefan Baumeister have all been successful during the World Cup season.

A similar story lies in the women's snowboard cross, with Austrian Daniela Ulbing leading the standings in front of German Ramona Theresia Hofmeister, Sofia Nadyrshina of the ROC and Julie Zogg of Switzerland.

Ester Ledecká, who is also competing in Alpine skiing, is set to defend her Olympic title too, with the Czech athlete vying for gold medals in two sports at the same Games.

Snowboard is set to take place from tomorrow until February 15.