Action Sports 2 years ago

Winter Olympics 2018 to reach new heights with Big Air Snowboarding (Published July 1st)

  • Winter Olympics 2018 to reach new heights with Big Air Snowboarding (Published July 1st)

With all the hype and nail-biting surrounding the NHL and NBA Playoffs last month, we can all be forgiven for missing some major news: that the IOC has added Big Air Snowboarding to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea. Yes, you heard right.

It's an obvious ploy by the IOC to entice younger spectators to the stands and viewers to the broadcast.

But while fans are excited about this addition, there's a mixed response from the athletes themselves. But what's better than riders launching off a high-angle jump and performing really sick tricks in the air? Well, it's all about whether the sport is evolving in a healthy way, or distancing itself from its roots.

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2014 Olympic Slopestyle gold medallist Sage Kotsenburg is concerned about the way snowboarding will progress. Part of me is super excited... I love big air. It pushes the sport of snowboarding, but I don't always agree with the ways it does. I don't want to see snowboarding turn into this thing where you just go and spin as much as possible and end up looking like a meatball flying through the air."

Kotsenburg's not all talk, which is why he's admired by so many. He's working on a proposal that he'll submit to the IOC, encouraging them to value style and creativity along with the flying meatball aspect:

Most of us will remember that right before the 2014 Games, Kotsenburg almost threw in the towel because he was so disillusioned. Then, he had an epiphany. "I realized I could snowboard the way I wanted to, which is how snowboarding started. I went to the Olympics and just did my thing."

Doing his thing got him that gold. And along with that, the privilege of inspiring so many people. I've seen people be inspired to snowboard. I've seen kids get stoked on it.

One athlete who's thrilled at the prospect of Olympic Big Air is Ty Walker, the winner of the first ever FIS Women's Big Air. She feels it's great for exposure, yet will maintain its integrity. "I really saw that it's the performance of your trick and not just what it was that counts.

Meanwhile, Austin Smith and Terje Haakonsen (who boycotted the 1998 Olympic snowboarding event), openly disagree with the Big Air inclusion. An event like big air isn't the foundation of why myself and others, I think, started to snowboard, says Smith.

Understandably, Jeremy Forster, Snowboarding and Freeskiing Director of the USSA, feels that Big Air is a step in the right direction, believing that style, creativity and expression can still be maintained even at the Olympics.

Let's face it. The fans want more chances to see Kotsenburg, Stale Sandbech, Mark McMorris, Max Parrot, Seb Toots, Sven Thorgren and Halldor Helgason kill it. And anyway, there's another burning question:

With any luck, that'll be on the books for 2022.

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