U.S. wants to add big air, team snowboard cross to Olympics
More snowboarding events could be added to the Olympics, if a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association proposal succeeds.
The USSA confirmed it wants to add men’s and women’s big air and men’s and women’s team snowboard cross to the Winter Olympic program, and will make the formal proposal at an International Ski Federation (FIS) meeting next week. If the FIS approves, it will take the proposal to the International Olympic Committee.
“The goal is to continue to push forward the most progressive and most relevant sports in snowboarding and skiing,” USSA snowboarding and freeskiing director Jeremy Forster told The Associated Press.
Halfpipe and Alpine snowboarding debuted at the 1998 Olympics. Snowboard cross was added in 2006, and slopestyle this year. The U.S. swept the slopestyle gold medals in Sochi as part of a highly successful Olympics in freestyle skiing and snowboarding for Americans.
“We need to preserve our history. It’s very important,” IOC Sports Director Christophe Dubi told reporters in Sochi in February. “At the same time, we have to remain relevant and make sure that we capture a new audience as well.
“I have one 11-year-old, and I can tell you he is following [slopestyle champion] Sage [Kotsenburg] and the others in our new events keenly, in front of the TV, but also consuming on the Internet.”
Men’s big air -- but not women’s -- has been part of the International Ski Federation’s World Championships since 2003, with Finland dominating, though Canada and the U.S. have fared well at the Winter X Games, which also only have a men’s event.
In big air, snowboarders do tricks off ramps similar to those on slopestyle courses.
A team snowboard cross event would be similar to the luge team relay that debuted at the Sochi Olympics. Just like an individual snowboard cross event, several riders from different nations would race down a course. When a rider from a nation crosses the finish line, the starting gate would open for the next rider from that nation at the top of the course, according to the AP.
For now, the USSA thought is to have separate men’s and women’s snowboard cross team events but hope a mixed-gender event could be an additional option in the future.