They Said It: Athletes’ Initial Thoughts On Olympic Slopestyle
Yesterday's announcement to include ski and snowboard Slopestyle in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, left the internet ablaze with well-wishers and a few haters.We reached out a few athletes who may be going to Russia in 2014 to get their take, four who won't be, and one snowboarder.
We asked them all the same question: "How do you feel about Slopestyle being included in the Olympics? What are the positives and/or negatives?"
Ingrid Backstrom (USA) - Big mountain skier, star of MSP's 2010 film, The Way I See It
"I think it is a great thing to have Slopestyle in the Olympics — any chance to positively show skiing to the world is an awesome thing — and I am really happy for all of the skiers who have worked so hard and now get a chance to show what they can do and BE IN THE OLYMPICS!! I can't really speculate on any negatives at this point, it just seems like a good thing, and anything negative that arises can be dealt with when it arises."
Sarah Burke (CAN) - 2011 X Games and European X Games Superpipe Gold medalist
"Well it is very exciting news for all of us. I am thrilled to be able to have ALL our friends in Russia getting to experience this extremely special event. I do, however, hope that the slope riders really speak up and hold their ground for what they believe in. The last thing I want is for every slope course to turn into the exact same features for each contest. I think at this beginning stage we really need to be careful and work with the higher ups to make sure it stays true to what we have all worked so hard to build."
Sammy Carlson (USA) - 2011 X Games Slopestyle gold medalist
"I am super stoked about the slopestyle announcement. I think it's going to bring so many positive things to the sport."
Joss Christensen (USA) - 2nd place, 2011 Winter Dew Tour Snowbasin Slopestyle
"I'm super excited that slope got into the Olympics, I thought it never had a chance. I think the positives are that it will help our sport get more recognition and respect along with it will help put more structure into the competition circuit, Hopefully, adding more events instead of them ending due to lack of sponsorship. Some negatives I feel could be that skiing would get too serious and fun could be taken away,.. and that athletes will be pushed to go for things they aren't comfortable with."
Justin Dorey (CAN) - 1st place, 2011 AFP World Championships Superpipe and US Grand Prix Superpipe
"I'm so stoked for all my buddies who do Slope. That being said, designing an 'Olympic Slopestyle Course' is going to be an issue, especially if they try and standardize it. I think that if Olympic Slopestyle is done right it could be awesome, I just don't hope it loses any of its creativity."
Keri Herman (USA) - 2011 X Games and European X Games Slopestyle Silver Medalist, 2nd, 2010-11 AFP Slopestyle Ranking
"I am so excited that slope is being included in the Olympics! I think it's going to be great for the recognition of our sport. I just hope that things won't get too serious and regulated."
Sage Kotsenburg (USA) - 2011 X Games Snowboard Big Air Bronze medalist
"I think it's awesome Slope got in the Olympics for Snowboarding and Skiing. it has some inside industry negative thoughts towards it in a couple different ways but you can see how much just having Superpipe Snowboarding in just four Olympics and it was the first or second most watched event. It's awesome to think that we are forerunning a huge new sport compared to all of these old sports. People get bored of watching some of the other sports and Freestyle Snowboarding and Skiing are new, young and crazy to watch events that draw a huge new, younger audience to the Olympics."
Riley Leboe (CAN) - Big mountain skier, star of PBP's 2010 film, Revolver
"I'm so stoked Slopestyle is being included in the Olympics. It won't be long and I'll be planning my trip to Sochi to watch my best friends compete in both Slope and Halfpipe. With Slopestyle on the Olympic stage, it's going to bring more attention the sport and I believe the industry will benefit as a whole. I know it's many athletes and many of my friends' dreams and goal to compete on that stage and now they have the chance to. These three years leading up to the games are going to be very important. The athletes have to be very involved to ensure that things like the course layouts and features don't become standardized. It's the creativity in both the skiing and the courses/features that make slopestyle so exciting to do and watch. And really, it's just so awesome that we'll be watching Slope and not another one of the 69 figure skating events!"
Devin Logan (USA) - 2011 AFP Overall Women's World Champion
"I am super excited about Slopestyle making it in to the 2014 Olympics! My goal is to hopefully make the US Team for Slopestyle, and be an athlete that makes it to the Olympics for two events! This news is great to me."
Matt Margetts (CAN) - 2nd place, Euro Open Halfpipe, 9th 2010-11 AFP Superpipe Ranking
"I wasn't sure how I felt about Slopestyle becoming an Olympic event. It's crazy to me that there was such a huge push for it in snowboarding and even crazier that ski slope got fast tracked and is now in. But I'm stoked that my Slopestyle friends now have the opportunity to go to the Olympics. Look how much the sport of freeskiing has changed in the last four years. Courses, jumps and rail features but most importantly the tricks. Doubles were just coming on the scene four years ago. What will people be doing in two years, led alone in 2018 in South Korea. It will take a little bit away from us Pipe athletes being the only skiers going to the Olympics. We can't let FIS control everything this time around."
Bene Mayr (GER) - Euro X Games Slopestyle competitor and star of PBP's 2010 film, Revolver
"I think its a good thing so the sport gets bigger attention in general; the people will love it I think. Allthough it's important that the people who are involved in freeskiing especially the people in slope and pipe will take things in there hands and not let the IOC descide the rules and how it will be judged and so on. Nobody wants that whether it's Halfpipe or Slopestyle. It would end up like moguls or aerials! So let's hope for the best and let freeskiing take over the Winter Olympic Games in 2014."
Sean Pettit (CAN) - Big Mountain Skier, Star of MSP's 2010 film, The Way I See it
"I was overly excited that Slopestyle got in. More than my friends that are actually going to be competing in it. It just shows that the sport of skiing is being more recognized to the world."
Mike Riddle (CAN) – 2011 FIS Superpipe Champion
"I am super pumped for all my friends who want it in and want to be in Russia to party for the Olympics and I am psyched about it myself, but I can't help but wonder why we have had to jump through hoops for years to get to the same spot with Halfpipe. At the end of the day, the more skiers at the biggest stage promoting our sport, the better. And I might want to start doing Slopestyle again." [laughs]
Oscar Scherlin (SWE) - 2009 winner of Red Bull Playstreets Slopestyle
"I think that the Olympics is great! It gives our sports a way bigger audience and more media coverage. I don't really see a bad thing about that. Of course the organization has to listen to the people that really know and are involved in our sport. So that it won't only be old people from FIS. Then it could be à real junk show. But if we work together, it will be great!"
TJ Schiller (CAN) – 3x X Games medalist (2 Slopestyle, 1 Big Air)
"Instantly excited! After seeing how amazing the Vancouver Olympics were from a bystander's view, I couldn't imagine the feeling you would have being the athlete. These next three years are going to be intense."
Alex Schlopy (USA) – 2011 FIS World Slopestyle Champion
"I think it could be really good for the sport, as long as we stick to our roots and don't become robots. What we do is unique and it needs to stay that way. That's what makes freeriding/freeskiing so fun!"
Cody Townsend (USA) – Big Mountain skier, star of MSP's 2010 film, The Way I See It
"So, overall I'm really excited that freeskiing is in the Olympics. It's a chance to change people's perceptions of what skiing is. Most people around the world still associate skiing with racing, ski instructors and on-piste carving. The public perception of skiing is literally 15 years behind the times and the Olympics are the biggest chance to alter that awareness. But I'm also cautious about how ski companies and ski media will handle it. Blindly throwing heaps of money and overly concentrated attention to a competition that will ultimately stifle creativity (it is FIS after all) will not help skiing in the long run. Snowboarding hasn't grown by leaps and bounds since being included in the Olympics, only Shaun White has."
Kaya Turski (CAN) – 2011 AFP Slopestyle Champ, 4-time reigning X Games / Euro X Slopestyle gold medalist
"I am so excited that slope made it in! I think it's going to be awesome to represent a younger generation of freestylers and to be part of history as an athlete in a sport that is making its debut in 2014. I think it's huge for us."
Tom Wallisch (USA) - 2010 Freeskier Skier of the Year and 2011 Powder Reader Poll Skier of the Year
"I'm really stoked on the decision for slope to be included in 2014. It means a lot of different things and a lot of good things will come from it. I'm excited to compete on the world stage. Just being able to maybe attend an event like this is for sure a life highlight. Being able to go there and have that possibility is good, but I'm fearful of how it might change and impact the judging and impact the quality of our sport. As long as the freedom and style of how we compete and how runs are judged are intact, I think it means nothing but good for the sport. I also think everyone needs to be involved and participate and then the Olympics will be great."
Byron Wells (NZE) – 3rd place, 2011 Winter Dew Tour Snowbasin Superpipe
"I think it's sick. Going from no Olympics to two disciplines in a couple of months! Epicness. Positives: I feel like it's will be really good for the sport and even greater that all the Slope guys are going to be there with us. Negative? Don't know if I can find a negative. I'm just stoked!"
Jacob Wester (SWE)
– 1st, London Freeze Big Air, 3rd, Dumont Cup Slopestyle
"I think its neither bad or good for our sport, but the main question i would ask is; do we need the olympics, or does the olympics need us a whole lot more? I believe in the latter, and i think the whole reason our sport even exists is the fact that we broke away from all those rules back in the day? Have we already forgot where we came from?"