Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Snowboarding Slopestyle Added To 2014 Olympics

Transworld Business 7/5/11 - While most of the fireworks going off last night were for the Fourth of July holiday, there were a few select ones getting lit following the announcement yesterday by the International Olympic Committe (IOC) that men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding and skiing will be included in the 2014 Socchi Winter Olympic Games. Also added were snowboard parallel special slalom (men and women).
Despite the ratings of snowboarding halfpipe in the 2010 Vancouver Games and a statement by media-wunderkind Shaun White that he would compete if the event were added, the IOC originally tabled the decision to include slopestyle in 2014 this April, saying it needed to further study the feasibility of adding the events.
But that all was set aside yesterday in Durban, South Africa with the following proclamation by IOC President Jacques Rogge: “We are very pleased with the addition of ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard special slalom in the Olympic Winter Games programme. Such events provide great entertainment for the spectators and add further youthful appeal to our already action-packed lineup of Olympic winter sports. We look forward to welcoming all the athletes to Sochi in 2014.”
Members of the USSA see this as a huge opportunity to grow the sport in the more accessible category of slopestyle: “The IOC’s decision to add slopestyle to the Olympics recognizes the millions of youth who are already participating in the sport in terrain parks around the world,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “It will have a very positive impact on the sport including our U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs.”
“Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding are already bringing scale to our industry worldwide,” adds USSA’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. “The IOC’s recognition of slopestyle is great for our sport and partners like The North Face in freeskiing and Burton in snowboarding who have also seen the youthful interest in the sports. We look forward to leveraging these new Olympic disciplines to engage consumers, drive growth and fund our athletes Olympic dreams.”
While snowboarding’s inclusion in the Olympics has had a controversial history within the core community since halfpipe was first added to the 1998 Nagano Games for the way it presents riding to the world at large, efforts by the TTR to work with the FIS on scoring should mitigate some of this and contest organizers are already expressing their excitement: “It’s great news for the sport and for the athletes, who will have the chance to enjoy more limelight,” explained Patrick Bernier, one of the founders and organizers of the Ride Shakedown. “Year after year, slopestyle attracts a growing fan following. We see it in the amateur round of our competition and in the snow parks.”
However, the nuts and bolts of the task force being organized between the two organizations leave a lot of questions open about how much say TTR will have in the actual regulation at day’s end. In an article by Matt Barr on TWSNOW he calls into serious question whether the task force will be anything more than lip service and that events outside the FIS’s scope will be included in the Olympic qualification process: An even less generous interpretation is that, if the decision to include, say, a TTR event is to be made by a FIS committee (and not the collaborative Task Force) at the essential expense of a FIS event, this is extremely unlikely to happen. After all, I’m pretty sure no turkey ever willingly voted for Thanksgiving.
Regardless, slopestyle riders see this as a positive move in general at first blush: “I think it will do a lot for the sport. It’s a great opportunity for me and other riders,” said pro S├ębastien Toutant, one of the world’s best slopestyle riders. Chas Guldemond, who was recently added to the TTR board of directors and has been instrumental in founding We Are Snowboarding, an organization dedicated to supporting pros and the image of the sport says: “It is so great to finally hear that slopestyle will be included in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. It is an honor that the IOC feels our sport is worthy and I cannot wait to be able to try my best to bring home a medal for my country. The Olympic Games are the ultimate dream for any athlete. I know that the viewers will not be disappointed with the show that we will put on for them in 2014. This is history in the making for our sport and I am stoked to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”
The IOC also announced that it is considering adding wakeboarding for the 2020 Games.
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