In an Associated Press report this week, International Olympic Committee official Lars Engerbretson spoke out concerning the high injury rate of slopestyle athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The head of scientific activities for the IOC medical and scientific department, Engerbretson stated that the injury rate for slopestyle competitors, both skiers and snowboarders, was “too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics.”
Engebretson went on to say that, in all likelihood, the IOC would wait until after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea before making any sort of decision regarding slopestyle’s future inclusion in the Games; the extended period of time would potentially allow the sport of slopestyle to become safer, he says. However, the decision regarding slopestyle’s Olympic future would be left up to the IOC executive board alone, which Engebretson is not a part of.
In Sochi, most notably, snowboarder Shaun White withdrew from Olympic slopestyle competition, citing the course as too dangerous after a tough fall during practice. Norwegian Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone, as well. On the ski side, women’s slopestyle competitor Maggie Voisin was forced to withdraw after fracturing her ankle in a fall during practice, and fellow competitor Yuki Tsubota took one of the gnarlier crashes of the Olympics amid a finals run, injuring her jaw.
Engebretson also indicated a fear that slopestyle’s debut at the Winter Olympics would encourage a bigger pool of people to try the sport.
“That’s partly the reason why we have to be careful with it, because everything that’s going on TV from the Olympics creates a trend, people want to do the same thing,” he told the AP. “Slopestyle is exciting. But it’s just become, right now anyway, too exciting.”
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