With the announcement of halfpipe skiing’s inclusion in the 2014 Olympics, some are asking, “now what?” After years of halfpipe’s biggest stars campaigning and pleading with FIS and the IOC, their wish has come true and perhaps they find themselves without a long-term goal. Well ladies and gentlemen of the stunt ditch, now we ski. It’s no more than that. It’s actually very simple and surprisingly enjoyable. If you’re new to the sport, here’s a rundown:
Many will hail today as a victory for freeskiing and rightfully so. Olympic inclusion will show pipe skiing (and potentially slopestyle) to a much larger audience than events like the Dew Tour or X Games. That new audience will be surprised skiers are skiing backwards, upset they’ve been watching moguls all this time, and some will even give it a try. That of course, is a perceived good thing in terms of revenue for companies and the marketability of athletes. Let’s grow the sport and progression or something. But it’s not all dollars and cents. This morning while browsing Twitter and Facebook I saw this update from The Godfather.
As a member of the New Canadian Airforce, Mike helped pave the way to a twin tip revolution that has thankfully manifested gloriously into a large community of crazy like-minded, fun-loving skitards. He and others have their doubts regarding the Olympics and it’s understandable. Many years of blood, sweat, sweet powder turns, large jump sessions, and tears went into getting the sport out of it’s former stale state of the early 90s to the current stoke factory it is today. Initially Mike’s post had me questioning if the Olympics are right for our sport. Then I watched the latest webisode from Nimbus and realized the sport will be just fine. The reason why is after this hilarious BBC animal video.
(Alan! Alan! ok, back to the point) For a few months leading up to the Olympics and a few days every four years, pipe skiing will be on a main stage. Athletes we’ve come to know and love will get a chance to ski for their country (and money and chicks). They’ll also become privy to new opportunities like hosting Saturday Night Live, showing up on TMZ, and maybe feeling up a girl for the first time in a music video for the Black Keys. And that’s cool, right?
Anyone that’s hung around the sport long enough knows we have great personalities fit for representing our sport to the international media. Pipe and park skiing will represent the “sport” of freeskiing to the general public which is fine because right now, there’s virtually no representation at all. Besides that what really matters is what happens in between those four years of Olympic action. While the prospect of a brand having an athlete in the Olympics is enticing, we live in a world that needs more direct connection with consumers than an appearance on NBC every four years. From Twitter to Facebook and everything in between brands need athletes that ski and share their experiences with the world daily, weekly, annually, six times a year, and every fall in a theatre near you. As long as things like Sean Pettit’s 70-foot 360 at Cold Rush, the Traveling Circus and DubSatch crews, ridiculous contests for the best Blind 4 and Liu Kang edits, advancements in ski gear, events like IF3 and The Gathering, magazines (I’m contractually obligated to urge you to Subscribe to Powder today!), websites like BroBomb and Newschoolers, urban and backcountry progression captured on film, and the memories of Shane McConkey and C.R. Johnson continue to drive the sport, we’ll be more than fine. The pipe jocks will manifest no doubt but the freeskiers will continue to shine in every aspect of the sport. Just ask inaccurately labeled “pipe jock” Matt Margetts. All the Olympic hype in the universe isn’t going to change how much fun it is to live life as a skier.
Skiing is safe.
*Update from Mike Douglas’ Facebook page* Also, check out Powder columnist John Symms’ great piece on the Olympic dream on ESPN.