Taking on Olympic Airs

Story Trevor Stark
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Bad attitudes, baggy pants and big air are the criteria by which to judge a winner in the new addition to Winter Olympic events.

Snowboarding, the latest fringe sport to catch the conservative eye of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is joining the ranks of other featured Olympic winter sports. This follows in the wake of mountain biking’s successful debut in last summer’s Olympic Games in Atlanta and the IOC’s movement to include youth-oriented sports in the Olympic family.

Two snowboard disciplines are to be showcased in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The giant slalom is similar to the same event for skiers, and the halfpipe competition is like vertical skateboarding on a ramp: it features air-borne tricks along the vertical walls of a U-shaped dugout of snow.

In a recent Vancouver Sun interview, Hanno Treindl, snowboard competition coordinator for the International Ski Federation, says it is about time. “Look at the growth of snowboarding. From zero to three million in about eight years. Compare that to other sports. The Olympics are for the youth of the world to come together. The IOC, they are not so old as they have been accused. They want new sports, popular sports in there. No Olympic sport should be sure it will be there forever.”

Regardless of the political fallout of this latest move by the IOC, snowboarding is a great spectator sport. What’s not to like with boarders pushing the confines of their abilities as they boost and spin their way to a podium finish?