Friday, April 8, 2011

Halfpipe skiing added to Sochi Olympics slate


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday afternoon that halfpipe skiing and women's ski jumping will be included in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. A decision for slopestyle skiing and snow-boarding and the alpine team event will be made in late May.

Following the meeting of its Executive Board in London Wednesday, the IOC has con-firmed the inclusion of a total of six new events on the pro-gram of the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

The newly added events which are FIS events are free-style ski halfpipe (men and la-dies) and ladies' ski jumping, along with biathlon mixed re-lay, figure skating team event and luge team relay.

Five other FIS events under consideration—the Alpine na-tion's team event, freestyle ski slopestyle (men and ladies) and snowboard slopestyle (men and ladies) remain subject to a fur-ther feasibility study.

A decision on the inclusion of these five events will be made within the coming months following further work among FIS technical experts, representatives of the Sochi 2014 organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC especially cited the attractiveness and popularity among the young generations as well as the spectacular, high level in both the men's and la-dies competition as the benefits of freestyle ski halfpipe events.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard As-sociation president and CEO Bill Marolt said, "This is a spe-cial day. The IOC's decisions to include women's ski jumping and halfpipe skiing marks a truly progressive era in the Olympic sport movement.

"Today is the beginning of a chapter in the history books that will showcase these great athletes' talent and dedication on the world's stage in 2014 and beyond. The USSA is happy to be a part of these exciting de-velopments in Olympic sport."

"With these (events) on board, we have a very compel-ling value proposition for these Games," said IOC Sport Direc-tor Christophe Dubi. "It will be an extremely exciting pro-gram."

Women's ski jumping and halfpipe skiing were two of the five ski and snowboarding events being considered for inclusion in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

After much deliberation, Dubi proudly announced the approved events. With success-ful events at the FIS Nordic World Championships at Hol-menkollen in Norway and the FIS Freestyle World Champi-onships at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, the athletes' years of hard work and con-stant support of the sports committed advocates have paid off.

"I have been waiting for this decision for over six years now, it is a dream come true. Now on to the next dream: getting my-self there," said 2010 X Games champion Jen Hudak of Salt Lake City. "The level of the sport is high, the interest in it is even higher, the Olympics provide us with the ultimate stage to show our sport to the world!"

For halfpipe skiing, the in-clusion coincides with the fast-paced progression of the sport, as the world's youth continues to vocalize their interest through self-made videos and the increased number of ski terrain parks and halfpipes across the world. That progres-sion led the U.S. Ski and Snow-board Association to create a new athletic program and brand, U.S. Freeskiing, around the new events.

"The IOC's decision to in-clude these new sports in the 2014 Olympics has reach and relevance to millions of youth around the world," said USSA's Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. "This decision gives them the opportunity to dream big—to compete on the world's largest stage. This has an incredibly positive impact on the growth of our new U.S. Freeskiing brand by giving marketers a captivated and scalable audi-ence to communicate their messages."

"It is hugely appealing to the youth. This is what kids do. They go in the halfpipe and on the jumps. Both slopestyle and halfpipe are extremely popular and appealing," explained Dubi when asked about how the de-cision will appeal to youth dur-ing the IOC press conference. "If you go on the Internet this is what you see as well. They film themselves and share their videos. It's quite amazing what is happening."

For women's ski jumping, the decision to include became clear after seeing the level of competition significantly im-prove from the 2009 World Championships to the 2011 World Championships. With 13 nations represented in the top 30 competitors, and nearly 30 women consistently jumping between 80 and 97 meters, the diversity proved favorable.

"I've dedicated my life, hopes and dreams to ski jump-ing and I'm thrilled that our sport will be showcased at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi," said 2009 World Cham-pion Lindsey Van of Park City, Utah. We are ready.

"For our sport this means a huge step in the right direction. Women's ski jumping has been developing a lot over the past 10 years, but the Olympics is what our sport really needed to take the next step."

Hopes are optimistic for slopestyle skiing and snow-boarding and the alpine team event as the IOC will further review the events before mak-ing a final decision in late May.

The IOC plans to continue meeting with both the Interna-tional Ski Federation and Sochi organizers relative to the re-maining events.

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