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In an example of X Games meeting the traditional Winter Olympics, slopestyle snowboard features snowboarders performing along specifically made trails called “terrain parks.” The mountainside course is filled with various types of jumps and rails that the snowboarders use to create tricks and high-amplitude jumps as they move down the slope.
In what should be a thrilling addition to the Sochi Games, male and female snowboarders will look to execute a multitude of different maneuvers and tricks throughout the course and will be awarded points for both difficulty and technical precision. The event will have both a semifinal and final round with contestants taking two runs in each if qualified.
Previously considered a fringe sport, slopestyle snowboard is an X Games favorite and became part of the FIS Snowboard World Championships in 2011, the first step in bringing it to the Olympic Games.
For the new generation of winter sport enthusiasts, the Olympic inclusion of the sport is a welcome sight that will bring added enthusiasm to the Winter Games. Others, including high-profile NBC commentator Bob Costas, however, wonder how it will mix in with the more traditional skiing and snowboarding events.
“I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville, because basically, this stuff is just ‘Jackass’ stuff that they invented and called Olympic sports,” Costas told the Today show’s Matt Lauer while laughing.
That opinion did not sit particularly well with fellow NBC commentator Todd Richards, who posted the following on Facebook:
Let me get this straight: All the sacrifices of body and mind I and countless others have made to progress the discipline of slopestyle have now been reduced to the byproduct of an MTV show … by someone that is "hosting" the Olympics? On behalf of NBC’s snowboarding coverage team I apologize to everyone in the sport. This does not represent the feelings of the people that work hard to bring you the snowboarding broadcasts.
Given his domination of the event at the X Games, it should surprise few to discover Shaun White is among the favorites to win gold in the inaugural men’s Olympic competition. The American has won eight total medals in the event during his X Games history, five of them gold.
White will be strongly challenged by Norway’s Stale Sandbech and Canadian Mark McMorris, who is the reigning X Games champion in the event.
On the women’s side, Jamie Anderson will be the face of the American team and is a strong candidate for a gold medal. The talented snowboarder will be pushed by Canadian Spencer O’Brien, who won gold in the event at the 2013 FIS World Championships, and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi.