With the whole world watching at the Sochi Olympics earlier this year, Slopestyle couldn’t have come across as a more impressive event that garnered mass attention from the media. In its wake it has helped rejuvenate the Olympics and shown the other side of snowboarding. Now as the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and FIS (International Ski Federation) have had time to reflect they have come to a startling conclusion. A conclusion that potentially could effect the status of snowboard slopestyle in future Olympics.
Slopestyle is currently unsafe as the current injury rate is unacceptable said Lars Engebretsen, head of anti-fun scientific activities at the IOC’s medical and scientific department. Citing the crash of Torstein Horgmo that broke his collar bone in training as well as the rectal pain Shaun White had which caused him to drop out hours before Slopestyle.
“I can say what I feel: That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn’t have it. But the IOC may not follow that,” Engebretsen told the AP in Monaco, calling slopestyle “problematic.” “Something has to be done with that sport.”
In the wake of Engebretsen’s findings the head of the FIS Gian Douché-McSKi told the Associated Press “We take the head of Anti-Fun Scientific Studies [Lars Engebretsen] from the IOC opinion very seriously. This has caused us to look further into the idea of continuing to keep Slopestyle in the Olympics as well as all FIS sanctioned events. Although as its revenue stream makes up about 90% of our profits and we really value having deep lined pockets made off the work of a sport we don’t participate in or understand. We have to look at all the options presented to us.”
A spokesmen for the IOC released this statement over the weekend:
We at the IOC have to look into every possible scenario that can come from findings like this and can’t enter lightly into decisions that can have potential ramifications globally on the sport of snowboarding. When we first allowed snowboarding into the Olympic Games we knew we did it wrong by allowing the FIS to be the governing body and have been paying for it ever since and now we have this dilema. We are not snowboarders, we do not understand snowboarding, and as such we will have to open a dialogue with real snowboarders to comprehend what their needs are and what is acceptable. In the mean time we do have four years to try and figure out a solution to this problem as well as watch other events like the X-Games and Dew Tour to see how they handle and prevent injuries. It will be a time of data collection and micro inspection of the global snowboarding community.”
Sources inside the debate have said that their solutions would only hinder snowboarding as talks of smaller courses, limited spins, and ride on jib [rails and boxes] features are being examined.
As the debate of safety will always be ongoing all one has to do is look back at this quote from Olympic Slopestyle Gold winner Sage Kotsenburg after Shaun White dropped out of slopestyle and the course in Sochi had been called into question, “yea X Games is all lollipops and unicorns the whole way down, we aren’t used to dangerous courses haha”.
This safety concern actually comes as more people have now seen another side to snowboarding besides the halfpipe and an expected surge in participants is to happen going into the 2014/2015 season. Douché-McSKi was also quoted as saying “We have a duty to make sure the average every day snowboarder is safe and if that means convincing them that skiing is more important than so be it, we can’t be responsible for people getting ‘too gnarly for their own good’ and having injuries as a result.”