The IOC's continuing effort to run the X Games out of business might have helped Canada's efforts to keep owning the podium.
On Monday, the Olympic overseers added "men's and women's slopestyle events in snowboarding and freestyle skiing" as events for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. That is likely obviously a testament to how much clout both the Canadian and U.S. Olympic committees now have in IOC boardrooms, particularly the latter since U.S. TV rights fees go a long way to keeping sportocrats stocked in ivory back-scratchers.
As The Canadian Press described it, "In slopestyle, snowboarders and skiers do tricks while going down the mountain and maneuver through "features" — rails, big jumps and bumps." Here's a visual of Canada's Kaya Turski competing in 2010, not long after the Vancouver Olympics, in fact.
In any event, slopestyle athletes are gunned up. As Kaya Turski, who won the women's ski slopestyle at the European Winter X Games in March, put it:
"I'm stoked to be part of a sport that represents a younger generation and that's going to be way cool to watch during the Olympics. I think it will be an eye opener for a lot of people. I feel good about reppin' Canada! I can't wait." (FISfreestyle.com)
From a Canadian point of view, having these new events probably will boost the medal count relatively high. Or at will at least, going with a gut feeling here, make up for any post-Vancouver malaise spawned out not having the same imperative to clean up this time, other than in men's hockey. Canada has a strong tendency to have good early results in newer Olympic disciplines and other international sports before other, typically better organized and more resourceful sporting nations start to invest in development (see: women's soccer). Ten of this country's record 14 golds in Vancouver came in events that were not part of the program in 1988 in Calgary, the previous time the country hosted.
Far be it to be the curmudgeon who says it is be nobler in the mind for Canada to compete with and beat Europe's best athletes in something more traditional like alpine or cross-country skiing. Or for that matter put more into the Summer Games, where aside from the 1990s the country's historically an underachiever. Come every quadrennial, a medal is a medal, so in that regard, bring on the slopestyle.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: Getty Images).
- 2014 Winter Olympics