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Sochi 2014: Ten Canadian Athletes to Watch

02/06/2014 05:13 EST | Updated 04/08/2014 05:59 EDT

You won't want to take your eyes off of these talented Canucks!

Here we go, guys and gals! The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi officially kick off on Friday, and after a solid ride in Vancouver in 2010, Canadians have high hopes as we venture away from our home turf. To make the most of your Olympic-viewing experience, keep an eye out for these 10 athletes across a variety of disciplines as they bring their impressive speed, enthusiasm, and finesse to the Winter Games.

1. Mark McMorris

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting athletes to watch this year will be Mark McMorris, the 20-year-old snowboarder who will make his Olympic debut in slopestyle, one of several new events at Sochi. An X Games gold medalist, McMorris is among the best in the world at his game, and with the stakes higher than ever, you'll want to tune in to see this Regina, Saskatchewan native. After all, it's hard not to love a guy whose nickname is McLovin. Snowboard slopestyle qualifiers began today ahead of the Games tomorrow. McMorris surprisingly sits in seventh. Can he climb his way back to the top to win the first gold medal in slopestyle?

2. Christine Nesbitt

This Olympic veteran from London, Ontario, could take home three medals in Sochi, as she's competing in the 500-metre, 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre distances. She won gold in Vancouver in the 1,000-metre -- Canada's only individual gold medal in long-track speed skating -- and she's won world titles since, even setting a new world record in 2012. Though she had a tough start to the season with finishes as far back as 12th place, we know Nesbitt, 28, is capable of coming from behind to shine in the spotlight.

3. Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan has wowed Canadian figure-skating fans as the three-time reigning world champion. Though he finished fifth in Vancouver in 2010 and has been beaten this season, when he's mentally prepared, he's a force to be reckoned with and Canada's best hope at its first-ever Olympic gold medal in men's singles. Keep an eye out for a quad in his program at Sochi -- that's something he's added since his last Olympic run.

4. Rosalind "Roz" Groenewoud

Another Canadian athlete to make her Olympic debut in Sochi is Rosalind Groenewoud, a favourite in the ski halfpipe with multiple X Games medals and world titles under her belt. Ranked second in the world going into the Winter Games, Groenewoud is great on her own incentive, but she may have extra motivation in Sochi. On her helmet will be the name of former teammate Sarah Burke, who helped get the sport into the Olympics before she died tragically in a training run in 2012.

5. Sidney Crosby

It's safe to say a fair share of Canadians will tune in to see the Canadian men's hockey team in action, especially after their spectacular gold medal finish in Vancouver. But team captain Sidney Crosby may draw even more attention than usual after cementing himself as a symbol of Canada's success in the Winter Olympics. We know we won't forget that overtime goal any time soon. With the pressure on to defend Canada's title, who knows what this hockey star will pull out of his helmet.

6. Greg Westlake

Just as the competition should fear Sidney Crosby on skates, they should dread Greg Westlake on a sledge in equal measure. Named most outstanding forward at the 2013 Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship in South Korea -- where he helped Canada snatch up gold -- Westlake, 27, will lead Canada's top-ranked Paralympic sledge hockey team into battle for the first time in Sochi. And after missing the medal rounds in Vancouver, Westlake and the rest of the Canadian team will be raring to go.

7. Kaya Turski

A three-time gold medalist at the X Games, Kaya Turski will show off her skills in slopestyle skiing in the sport's debut at the Sochi Olympics. Though she recently underwent a major knee surgery to repair a torn ACL, Turski, 25, reached the podium in her first competition back in mid-January. With a few more weeks of practice under her belt, this Montreal native will surely bring her A-game. We can't wait to see her tricks!

8. Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir

Figure-skating duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are coming off a gold medal finish in Vancouver, but they'll have plenty of fire in their bellies as they face tough competition from their American training partners, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The two pairs have flip-flopped on the top of the world stage over the last three years, with Virtue and Moir winning the World Championship in 2010 and 2012, and Davis and White in 2011 and 2013. But don't rule out the Russian pairs yet. This one will be a tight race.

9. Atsuko Tanaka

Another athlete making her Olympic debut is Calgary native Atsuko Tanaka, who will be soaring through the sky in ski jumping. Though men have competed in one of the original extreme sports at the Winter Olympics since 1924, Sochi will mark the first time for women. Tanaka will jump down a mountain, reaching speeds up to 90km/h, in a move that may look effortless in the air but takes years of intense training. Get ready to have her take your breath away as she flies like a bird.

10. Kelsey Serwa

Kelsey Serwa will head the Canadian women's ski-cross team heading into Sochi after her fifth place finish in Vancouver. If you have any doubts what the 24-year-old from Kelowna, B.C. can do, well, just look at her record: She's made it to the podium on the World Cup stage 15 times -- eight of those times she was on top. Despite a knee injury, Kelsey Serwa has proven she's back and has the goods to make it to the top of the podium once again.

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