This weekend was a monumental one for snowboarding the world over. Okay, I might get a bit carried away writing this as I have been up since 6am and my emotions are running high (with Jenny Jones taking Bronze) but I don’t think ‘monumental’ is an overstatement. Here’s what the Olympics has taught us about snowboarding this weekend…
1) It’s new and fresh to the Olympics and it’s interesting to watch!
Before this weekend most of the public probably hadn’t given snowboard slopestyle a second thought. Maybe they didn’t even know what it was, let alone what a melon grab was. But it gripped the nation and so did the snowboarders’ personalities, smiles and tricks. It’s a show on snow and always comes down to the final run, these are two factors which make it a really gripping event to watch. As it’s a new sport, the competition element is not as serious or standout. The snowboarders haven’t been training all their lives for this one day, they’ve been out there enjoying the powder, filming video parts and generally snowboarding for fun. I’m not saying that the past 2 years haven’t focused on Olympic qualification but they’ve certainly not been all consumed by it. I think we have been lucky spectators to watch the first ever year of it in its fresh and untainted state. It surely won’t be long until the competitive nature takes hold and there are athletes riding just for the Gold.
2) It’s open to creativity!
Every rider has their thing, whether it’s Anna Gasser‘s cab underflip, Karly Schorr’s Japan or Sarka Pancohova‘s method. Everyone has a different line and style which keeps you watching and is open to opinion. My favourite rider will be different from your favourite rider, and perhaps we won’t agree with some of the judges’ scoring. But that’s what makes it special and tricky to judge, slopestyle has an element of entertainment as opposed to just pure competition. Although creativity doesn’t always get you points from the judges, it does from the crowd.
3) It’s forever progressing!
As a ‘sport’ snowboarding has progressed pretty quickly. It is relatively new in the grand scale of things, with humble beginnings as the rebellious sibling of skiing, it has somehow charged all the way to the Olympics in a matter of decades. As for the riders progression, NBD’s (never been done’s) are common place in competition. Literally every rider has the potential to push things, for example Torah Bright and her switch 900 this morning. First lady ever to do so in a comp! Snowboard history books get updated pretty much by the run..
4) The athletes show the best sportsmanship qualities!
Every athlete wants to win, but in what other sport do all the other competitors push and support each other to such an extent? Watching the girls this morning it was obvious the level of ‘sportswomanship’. Smiles, high fives and hugs when a rider stomps their run, looks of concern when they slam, these are genuine emotions. Snowboarding has a lot of passion!
5) It’s an awesome thing to be a part of!
As an obsessed spectator (and participator), the past 6 years I have followed all the contests and riders, so to wake up this morning and see the snowboarders who I have followed throughout the years on the TV, for the world to see, is an amazing moment. I know that they didn’t get into snowboarding to be an Olympian and that it was an added extra. As Torah puts it: ‘I don’t need to compete to be a good snowboarder’. These are athletes that love what they do whether it’s riding with friends, a powder day or competing in a rail jam/Olympics. You might be on the mountain shredding down the same mountain Jamie Anderson is on. United by your board, under your beanie and hidden by your goggles, everyone is invited to be part of snowboarding.
6) Snowboarding is ready for the limelight!
The nation was gripped by slopestyle, as judged by the amount of coverage it’s getting right now. Trending on twitter is #Sochi2014 #JennyJones and the Telegraph has done an article on snowboard lingo! The mainstream media is getting on board, which is a rarity. I’ve been pushing snowboard events/riders to mainstream media for years (working in PR) and even names like Shaun White are normally a tough sell. But not right now! This is its moment and I hope the media expose its greatness to the world and don’t just jump on the boardwagon for a few days. Increased exposure makes way for more fun, events and opportunities.
7) Girls’ snowboarding is ready for the limelight!
It’s ironic as Jenny Jones likes to remain out of the spotlight and over the past few years has been quietly shredding away whilst winning medals but losing sponsors. The girls’ snowboard scene is something special and strong, but it has continued to get weaker in a sense, with less coverage, fewer events and minimal support from (some) brands. But I’ve always believed in it and all it takes is something big to bring it back and that’s what Jenny has done. She has changed it for everyone and paved the way for a new beginning! The opportunities to try snowboarding are out there, whether it’s your local mountain or dome and I’ve a feeling people/girls will be giving it a go.
8) It could prosper!
“Snowboarding in Great Britain is in a very new place” says Hazel Irvine of the BBC and this could bring about a chance for the sport to prosper. Okay, so there is always a sudden high when something like this happens, but we need to keep the momentum up! Hopefully this attention will bring about more funding for Team GB and the same for other countries too. Increased demand to snowboard and therefore increased facilities, events, sponsored riders and good vibes. If the UK managed to bring about 4 strong Olympic slopestyle riders in a country with limited mountains, think what could be done with more support.
Anyway, these are just a few thoughts amongst a million. It feels like a little bit of history has happened and I am personally excited to see what tomorrow (literally) brings for snowboarding. Now time for a nap…