Slopestyle Gets the Nod for 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Tom Copsey Tom Copsey
An artist's impression of the action at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

After much deliberation by smartly-dressed people, it has been decided that slopestyle will be included in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The official line from the IOC president goes like this: “We are very pleased with the addition of ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard special slalom in the Olympic Winter Games programme,” said Jacques Rogge. “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.”

Sadly we don’t know, nor could we be bothered to find out, what ‘snowboard special slalom’ is, but slopestyle getting the nod is kind of a big deal. To some it’ll be seen as another nail in snowboarding’s coffin while others will be excited at the opportunities it presents. Like lazy journalists do in the big papers these days, we turned to Twitter for an idea of what people are thinking…

A collection of Tweets about Olympic slopestyle. 'Mixed' could describe the mood.

After not wanting to commit slopestyle’s inclusion in the Olympics till they’d decided it was up to the ‘required standards’ late last year, it looks like the IOC honchos have cottoned on to what we all knew – that slopestyle is pretty rad – and have given it the thumbs up. Youth market TV figures go wild!

But what about the age old ski federation vs snowboarders power struggle? News only the other week that the FIS and the TTR were engaged in conversation with an aim to iron out the scheduling nightmare to ensure a fair and respected qualification system “that includes the best FIS World Cup events and the best TTR events.” And now it’s in. Yay. As expected, riders who regularly beat the slopestyle contest trail are more positive about this development, while those who concentrate on filming and shooting are either nonplussed or dismissive.

However, as Matt Barr writes in his excellent piece on TWS: “According to [FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis], for any event to be eligible for a future Olympic qualifying list, “…they will have to be registered by the relevant FIS national member association, and will have to conform to the existing rules to get that registration.” This would, Lewis continued, likely “…rule out invitational events, events with restricted participation, or any event that the ownership is held by any commercial groups. Basically, if you have any events that are different from FIS rules, it is not going to be possible”.”

So, hang on. The FIS are gonna be calling the shots again? Unless the TTR events, X Games, Dew Tour et al conform to the criteria, it seems there is the distinct possibility. But as Nike TM Jon Weaver’s Tweet suggests, the lure of the Rings is a strong one for many riders and, as happened with halpipe, slipping between the sheets with the FIS for a season is deemed an acceptable price to pay for the chance to jump through the hoops.

The IOC having an inclination to hear the FIS’s noises is nothing new, but hopefully now that TTR representatives are at least being involved in the process, we might have the situation where the best events with the best riders determine who gets the spots, and that the riders aren’t pulled all over the place in order to do so. It seems we’ve said this before, but only time will tell…

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