The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved big air snowboarding and an alpine team event as new event inclusions for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association had been among nations lobbying for inclusion of big air.
“Having big air in the Olympics is super exciting for me. I’ve always felt that the strongest point of my riding has been jumping. It’s great that there is an event that highlights the jumps specifically, and I’m looking forward to potentially competing in big air and slopestyle in 2018. I loved the energy that surrounded the big air World Cup in Turkey and I think it’s going to be even bigger and better in Pyeongchang.” – Ty Walker, Big Air World Cup Winner
The inclusion of big air is another step from the IOC in appealing to a more youth-oriented audience. The hugely successful slopestyle events at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi provided a great platform to launch big air as an additional medal opportunity for American athletes. Big air was introduced at the 2003 FIS Snowboarding World Championships and was included on the World Cup tour in 2015. U.S. Snowboarding’s Ty Walker (Stowe, VT) won the first ever women’s World Cup this past season in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Having big air in the Olympics is super exciting for me,” stated Walker, a 2014 slopestyle Olympian. “I’ve always felt that the strongest point of my riding has been jumping. It’s great that there is an event that highlights the jumps specifically, and I’m looking forward to potentially competing in big air and slopestyle in 2018. I loved the energy that surrounded the big air World Cup in Turkey and I know it’s going to be even bigger and better in PyeongChang.”
FIS will continue to ensure future judging criteria and formats allows for expression and creativity in both big air and slopestyle.
“The inclusion of big air is another positive step from the IOC to incorporate more events that are more appealing to a younger audience in the Olympic schedule,” said USSA Snowboarding Program Director Jeremy Forster. “The ability to host big air events on the hill or in stadiums make it exciting and engaging for a variety of audiences.”
The alpine team event, first introduced at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in 2005, was a fan favorite at the 2015 Worlds in Vail/Beaver Creek. The event features a mixed team of two men and two ladies competing for their national teams in a head-to-head slalom with a knockout format each round. It is an exciting event for spectators and a unique opportunity from a broadcast standpoint, showcasing multiple sport starts from each nation.
“The alpine team event is a valuable event that has provided spectators and media with a new, very visual format that creates a high level of excitement,” said USSA’s Alpine Program Director Patrick Riml. “It has been quite successful at World Championships and at the World Cup Finals and will be a great way to showcase our star athletes at the Olympics.”
Two alpine team events are on the World Cup schedule for the 2015-16 season.