By the U.S. SKI TEAM
Officials of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association acknowledged the International Olympic Committee for its progressive decision Monday to add three more events to the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 including slopestyle skiing, slopestyle snowboarding and snowboarding parallel slalom.
The addition of events in snowboarding and freeskiing were cited by the USSA as being directly connected to what youth are doing worldwide today in the sport.
In April, the IOC had approved halfpipe skiing along with women's ski jumping.
"The IOC's decision to add slopestyle to the Olympics recognizes the millions of youth who are already participating in the sport in terrain parks around the world," said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. "It will have a very positive impact on the sport including our U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs."
Slopestyle consists of a series of judged tricks down a long course of man-made features including rails, boxes and jumps. It's an integral part of terrain parks at resorts worldwide with millions of youth already engaged in the sport both in skiing and snowboarding.
The addition of the three for both men and women brings the total of nine new medal events/genders added by the IOC this year for skiing and snowboarding under the International Ski Federation.
The USSA played a key role with the FIS on the new freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, along with snowboarding slopestyle, giving skiing and snowboarding 50% of the Winter Olympic events.
"It's gratifying to see the modernism shown by the IOC in bringing in so many new events to better showcase the excitement of skiing and snowboarding as action sports to the world," added Marolt.
Athletes globally reacted favorably that the sport they evolved has been recognized for inclusion in the world's biggest sporting event.
"I couldn't be more excited about the IOC's decision," said Tom Wallisch (Pittsburgh, PA), one of the world's most noted slopestyle athletes. "I've always dreamt of skiing for the USA at the Olympics, and now we finally have the opportunity. This is a huge moment for our sport."
The same was true of snowboarders, who like freeskiers have been showcasing their sport for years at events like the X Games and the U.S. Grand Prix.
"I am so stoked that slopestyle will be included in the next Olympic Games," said three-time X Games women's gold medalist Jamie Anderson (S. Lake Tahoe, CA). "Slopestyle is such a progressive event and has become much more popular over the last few years. Nothing thrills me more than to see the sport that I love so much recognized on the world's stage."
The USSA took an active position within the FIS to push for inclusion of freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, plus slopestyle snowboarding.
This past February, the USSA stepped in to help support the inclusion of slopestyle and halfpipe skiing into the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Those events were pivotal in showcasing the sport of freeskiing to the IOC.
The IOC's Executive Committee had given its President Jacques Rogge the power to add the new events based on successful World Championships. Athletes competing at the World Championships took a leadership role in showing the IOC the high level of athletic ability that had grown up with the sport.
The U.S. had a strong performance in slopestyle skiing at the World Championships. Teen Alex Schlopy (Park City, UT) took gold, with Sammy Perkins (Hood River, OR) silver and Keri Herman (Breckenridge, CO) bronze in women's.
"Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding are already bringing scale to our industry worldwide," said the USSA's Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. "The IOC's recognition of slopestyle is great for our sport and partners like The North Face in freeskiing and Burton in snowboarding who have also seen the youthful interest in the sports. We look forward to leveraging these new Olympic disciplines to engage consumers, drive growth and fund our athletes Olympic dreams."
The USSA and U.S. Olympic Committee will determine a selection process to ultimately name the team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.