In case you haven’t heard, the IOC (finally) confirmed the inclusion of both men’s and women’s ski half-pipe for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Is this a good or bad thing for the sport of freeskiing? We’ll let you decide –

Today the IOC (International Olympic Committee) announced that ski halfpipe (men and women) will finally be added to the Olympics starting with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The event will be run by the FIS (Federation International Ski), the very organization that held ski halfpipe back from becoming Olympic for so many years. Not known for their progressive sports vision, the IOC announcement (with FIS support) comes 16 years after they approved snowboard halfpipe for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. (The FIS voted to in June 2010 to support ski halfpipe).

Since its Olympic debut snowboard pipe has been a marquee event of the Winter Games. At the Vancouver 2010 Games, the snowboard halfpipe was one of the most watched Olympic events on North American tv and garnered the largest youth audience worldwide. So needless to say the Olympic ski halfpipe decision was widely expected at today’s IOC meetings, after the decision was postponed from IOC meetings of last fall.

A decision on ski and snowboard slopestyle (men and women) is still pending with the IOC stating that slopestyle along with alpine team parallel (wtf?) “are subject to a further feasibility study. A decision on the inclusion of these five events will be made within the coming weeks.”

The Olympic news has been a long time coming for Canada’s top halfpipe skiers like Justiin Dorey, Mike Riddle, Matt Margetts, Roz Groenewoud and Sarah Burke who are ranked among the best in the world, and are now more than stoked that the announcement has finally been made. “The Olympics is the ultimate sporting competition, it’s so global and wide-reaching”, enthused Riddle. “We really tasted that in Vancouver in 2010 and I want to be a part of that in Sochi. I think Canada has the potential to do very well in halfpipe at the Olympics. We already have a strong team, a great coach and excellent facilities in this country. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think that with more funding we could sweep the podium at the Games.” Added Groenewoud: “I’m really excited, especially because I think being in the Olympics will make our sport a little more mainstream and hopefully encourage more girls to get involved.”

As for the delay in the slopestyle decision, Canadian Freestyle Ski Association CEO, Peter Judge said, “I think it’s very good news for slopestyle. Because this discipline requires a new venue and additional athletes its obviously a big undertaking for an organizing committee, especially this late in the game, so the fact hat they’re still considering adding slopestyle, to me, is a very positive sign.”

Canada also has several skiers ranked among the world’s best in slopestyle including TJ Schiller, JF Houle, Phil Casabon, Ian Cosco, Charles Gagnier, Kaya Turski, Kim Lamarre and Jessica Warll.

Click here to see current AFP (Association Freeskiing Professionals) Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe & Slopestyle

Rankings


The International Olympic Committee today confirmed the inclusion of six new events on the programme of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014. They are half-pipe (men and women), women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, figure skating team event and luge team relay. 

The decision to include the new events was based on a report presented by the Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) to the IOC Executive Board (EB) in Acapulco in October last year. The OPC studied the proposal of the individual International Sports Federations and, at the request of the EB, compiled a detailed analysis of all candidate events at their respective world championships this winter. In addition, the OPC looked at an operational feasibility study conducted by the organisers of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

The key positive factors included whether the changes would increase universality, gender equity and youth appeal, and, in general, add value to the Games. Other considerations included the cost of infrastructure, and the impact on the overall quota and the number of events.

“The inclusion of these events on the Olympic Winter Games programme is sure to be appreciated by athletes and sports fans alike,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “These are exciting, entertaining events that perfectly complement the existing events on the sports programme, bring added appeal and increase the number of women participating at the Games. I look forward to watching the athletes compete in these events in Sochi 2014.”

Five other events – ski slopestyle (men and women), snowboard slopestyle (men and women), and Alpine team parallel competition – are subject to a further feasibility study. A decision on the inclusion of these five events will be made within the coming weeks.

Pipe

Matt Margetts in Whistler, BC – Photo: Jason Mousseau

Ski Halfpipe – Men and Women: (International Ski Federation – FIS)

Ski halfpipe is a young and dynamic event that will complement the recent introductions of the popular freestyle ski cross and snowboard halfpipe events that drew high spectator numbers and television audiences at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. One competitor at a time performs a routine of acrobatic jumps, flips, twists and other manoeuvres on a half-pipe. The athletes are judged on their take-offs, the height they reach above the top of the pipe, and difficulty of their manoeuvres. A qualification round and final round are staged, with two runs per athlete in both. Ski halfpipe will make its first appearance in January 2012 at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.

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