According to the IOC, the first ever Olympic slopestyle contest could end up also being the last, if ‘unacceptably high’ injury rates aren’t reduced by 2018.
In a piece published by NBC Sports, the rates of injury in snowboard and ski slopestyle are potentially too high for them to continue as Olympic sports.
Lars Engebretsen, head of scientific activities at the IOC’s medical and scientific department (yeah, that position actually exists…) said that “right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics.” He added that the injury rates were “much higher than any other sport in Sochi.”
Right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics
Shaun White’s pull-out of slopestyle and Torstein Horgmo’s broken collarbone have been given as examples of injuries sustained in the event, although as we’d have suspected, there are many more factors to be considered by the IOC before the sports are cut, with Engebretsen adding: “That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn’t have it. But the IOC may not follow that.”
From where we’re looking at it, the rate of injury at the Sochi slopestyle wasn’t any different than your everyday slopestyle contest. Like it or not, injuries are an inherent part of snowboarding, and to quote Sage Kotsenburg’s response to claims that the Olympic slopestyle course was too dangerous: “yea X Games is all lollipops and unicorns the whole way down, we aren’t used to dangerous courses haha”
From what we can gather here, the IOC want slopestyle riders to be much less prone to injury, which in our eyes, is comparable to asking rugby players to tackle each other tenderly. Sure, injury can be made less likely, but they’ll always exist.
Furthermore, if slopestyle has to change just to fit into the Olympic mould, is it worth it?