DURBAN, South Africa – Officials of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association acknowledged the International Olympic Committee for its progressive decision Monday, July 4, 2011, to add three more events to the Olympic Winter Games in 2014. These events include slopestyle skiing, slopestyle snowboarding and snowboarding parallel slalom. The addition of these events in snowboarding and freeskiing were cited by the USSA as being directly connected to the evolution of the sport and what youth are doing worldwide.
This past April, the IOC had already added halfpipe skiing along with women’s ski jumping to be at the 2014 Olympics for the first time. ”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.”
The addition of the three events for both women and men brings it to a total of nine new medal events/genders added by the IOC this year for skiing and snowboarding under the International Ski Federation. The USSA played a key role with the FIS on the new freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, along with snowboarding slopestyle, giving skiing and snowboarding 50% of the Winter Olympic events.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the IOC’s decision, said Tom Wallisch, one of the world’s most noted slopestyle athletes. “I’ve always dreamt of skiing for the USA at the Olympics, and now we finally have the opportunity. This is a huge moment for our sport.” Slopestyle consists of a series of judged tricks down a long course of man-made features including rails, boxes and jumps. It’s an integral part of terrain parks at resorts worldwide with millions of youth already engaged in the sport both in skiing and snowboarding.
Athletes globally reacted favorably that the sport they evolved has been recognized for inclusion in the world’s biggest sporting event. Like the freeskiers, snowboarders who have been showcasing their sport for years at events like the X Games and the U.S. Grand Prix are immensely excited for the inclusion in the Olympics.
“I am so stoked that slopestyle will be included in the next Olympic Games,” said three-time X Games women’s gold medalist Jamie Anderson. “Slopestyle is such a progressive event and has become much more popular over the last few years. Nothing thrills me more than to see the sport that I love so much recognized on the world’s stage.”
Chas Guldemond who’s one of the biggest stars in the sport and one of the top-ranked Americans also commented, ”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 USSA took an active position within the FIS to push for inclusion of freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, plus slopestyle snowboarding. This past February, the USSA stepped in to help support the inclusion of slopestyle and halfpipe skiing into the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. The IOC’s Executive Committee had given its President Jacques Rogge the power to add the new events based on successful World Championships. Athletes competing at the World Championships took a leadership role in showing the IOC the high level of athletic ability that had grown up with the sport. Teen Alex Schlopy took gold, with Sammy Carlson silver and Keri Herman bronze in women’s for slopestyle at the World Championships.
“Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding are already bringing scale to our industry worldwide,” said the 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.”
The USSA and U.S. Olympic Committee will determine a selection process to ultimately name the team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.