Coming off the back of the largely successful introduction of Slopestyle snowboarding to the Sochi 2014 Olympics, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) have proposed the addition of two new Olympic snowboarding events for the Pyeongchang 2018 games: Big Air and Team Snowboardcross.
The USSA will make a formal proposal to the International Ski Federation (FIS) - the governing body of Olympic snowboarding - when its entire membership meets June 1-6 in Barcelona.
If FIS agree with the proposal for the two new events, they will then propose them to the International Olympic Committee. Big Air has been part of the FIS World Championships since 2003 while Snowboardcross has been one of the most popular events at the Olympics since its debut in 2006.
With big air, it would bring even more snowboarding to the world and, if we do it right it, would benefit snowboarding and the Olympics - Sage Kotsenburg
As you may remember, the addition of Slopestyle as a new event in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi was fast-tracked by the FIS and the IOC, and it appears that FIS are keen to push for the same accelerated process for Big Air and Team SBX. A definite selling point aimed at the IOC for the new events will be the excellent TV ratings that both slopestyle and snowboardcross achieved at Sochi 2014.
Some snowboarders, like Olympic slopestyle gold medallist Sage Kotsenburg, have already voiced their support for the proposal: "As we have all seen with the addition of halfpipe into the Olympics, it became a viewer favorite. When slopestyle was added, it was also one of the favorites with the third most streams of the entire games and one of the most watched sports. With big air, it would bring even more snowboarding to the world and, if we do it right it, would benefit snowboarding and the Olympics".
However, as with the addition of slopestyle, there will undoubtedly be many who oppose the addition of Big Air. The FIS Olympic qualification procedure and standard of slopestyle courses in the qualification process were widely criticised by snowboarders in the lead up to Sochi 2014, and the large overlap between slopestyle and big air participants would mean that those riders would be under even greater pressure in qualifying years.
Then there's the outsider's perspective: would the addition of big air in the Olympics push the progression of snowboarding to its breaking point? Would quad corks and robotic 1620s with mute grabs become the norm, encroaching dangerously into the realms of aerial skiing? "The first and foremost important thing I would like to see happen would be figuring out the best format that would benefit the riders and the viewers," added Mr. Kotsenburg. We think he's right there.
Whether the USSA and FIS are successful with their proposal will remain to be seen. Let us know how you would feel if Big Air and Team Snowboardcross were to become Olympic events in the comments section below.
Here is USSA's proposal to FIS Congress: (via: U.S. Snowboarding)
The inclusion of snowboarding has provided FIS and its National Ski and Snowboard Associations with a youth-oriented, innovative platform which has led to exciting new Olympic events, attracted new competitors and inspired new participants, and provided valuable new opportunities for sponsors, organizers, and media partners. It has also delivered high numbers of spectators and TV viewers – particularly at the Olympic Games – and has provided strong exposure to winter sports to a young audience.
Snowboarding defines itself through progression, and FIS has been a leader in establishing the most progressive events in its World Championships and, ultimately, the Olympic Games. This has added to the FIS brand, and established it as an innovative, youth-oriented international federation, which has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee as well as the media in the mission to adapt the Olympic program to be relevant to today's youth and markets.
Snowboarding continues to progress, with events like big air and team SBX, which have been well- received by athletes, organizers, spectators and media. Team SBX has provided a true national team event, which is lacking in the sport at the Olympic level. And Big Air has been a spectacular centerpiece to the World Championship since 2003.
We respectfully request that FIS continue to foster the progression of snowboarding, and formally request to the International Olympic Committee the inclusion of snowboarding's most relevant events in terms of youth, media, broadcast, commercial and spectator interest into the Olympic Games.