Category Archives: Snowboarding
It wasn’t the worst news that supporters of women’s ski jumping could have received. It wasn’t the best, either. In a statement released yesterday, the IOC stated that it looked “favorably” on women’s ski jumping being added to the 2014 Olympics, but that a final decision would not be made until after the world championships next year. Yet again, women’s ski jumping has not been given a final clearance for take-off. But it is the most promising news the sport has received, and as jumper Lindsey Van told USA Today, “They didn’t say no, so we’re headed in the right direction.” (Click here for the article.)
Today’s post originally was to be about the Olympic Village. However, this morning when I began my research on the topic, I read news of an Olympic-related incident which I found to be much more worthy of discussion. In fact, I feel the sense of urgency to write about this and share with my readers.
What could possibly cause this sense of urgency? No, it’s not the upset of USA over Canada in men’s ice hockey. Nor is it Bode Miller’s first gold medal of these Games. I am referring to the snowboard bronze medalist Scotty Lago and his racy photos which got him packing and sent home early from the Olympic Games.
Before I offend any snowboard fans, I wish to say that I like snowboarding. I think it requires skill, agility, nerve, and strength, and therefore, the requirements of snowboarding (at its best) justify it as an Olympic Sport. Yet as a fanatic who reveres the Olympic Games, I cannot continue to stand by quietly as snowboarders, who represent the sport and their country, make a mockery of the Games and continue to encourage this kind of culture in what could be a very respectable sport.
Puns aside, Wednesday, or Day 5, really was a fantastic day for USA. Canada’s next door neighbor won three gold medals, one silver, and two bronze medals yesterday. Here’s a quick recap of the medal standings thus far:
|United States||See Names||5||3||6||14|
|South Korea||See Names||3||2||0||5|
With 6 of the 45 skiers in the women’s downhill race crashing and thus not finishing, it’s a wonder that Lindsey Vonn not only finished in first, but did so well ahead of most of her competitors! Skiing with a severely bruised shin, her boot pressing into the injured leg with each deep, sharp-edged turn of her skis, she zoomed down the hills, her skis scorching the snow and ice-packed mountain! Furthermore, she beat her USA teammate Julie Mancuso by only .56 seconds. Did Mancuso and Vonn eat an extra bowl of Wheaties yesterday morning? Stupendous skiing! Thanks to CTV Sports and a friend’s technological brilliance, I was able to watch the women’s race live during lunch. I watched about 20 skiers race down the treacherous Whistler mountain, whereas NBC showed its evening viewers…maybe eight runs? As I sat there watching, it felt like the Olympics of yesteryear when I watched ABC’s coverage. I was able to soak in so much more of the competition and it was so much fun!
It was Day 4 of Vancouver’s Olympic Competition. Officially, everyone else refers to it as Day 5. I refer to it as the fourth day, since competition does not begin until the day following the opening ceremony. After Monday’s anticlimactic men’s downhill and an emotional pairs final, yesterday’s competition was full of thrilling victories and not without some agonizing defeats.
There are those who spend years training for just one opportunity to compete; to represent their country; to make Mom and Dad proud; to become the hometown hero. The majority of those in Vancouver (and at every Olympic Games) won’t become superstars. Very few ever make it on to the coveted Wheaties Box, and for those who do, how many of them do average fans remember four, eight, or twelve years later? Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvilli was one of these, his hard work having earned him a trip to Vancouver. He was making Mom and Dad proud. His last words to them before his death were of how proud he was going to make them.
There are also those whose years of training pay out in gold with one ski downhill. In less than two minutes (1:54.31 to be exact), Swiss skier Didier Defago’s years of hard work and grueling training paid off as he skied away with Vancouver’s first gold medal in men’s alpine skiing. As I had written a few weeks ago, predicting a medal winner in downhill is like drawing a name from a hat. Defago had a couple of wins in 2009, but with only one chance to ski down the hill, the medal was up for grabs! Norway’s Aksel Svindal won silver, with USA’s Bode Miller winning bronze. (Of course it would have been nice to watch more than 25 mins of downhill coverage, NBC!)
Although I’m an Olympic fanatic, my knowledge about snowboarding is minimal with a capital M. Since being added as an Olympic medal event in 1998, snowboarding has become increasingly popular and has dominated the ratings when coverage of the events is televised. Men’s snowboarding has had the popular ambassador of America’s Shaun White, whom some might call ‘the Tony Hawk of men’s snowboarding.’ His popularity has soared so much that American Express and “60 Minutes” have come calling, and his endorsements bring him about $10 million annually.
For those who are as equally limited in snowboarding knowledge as I am, here’s a bit of background info: Snowboarding was developed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This was around the same time that skateboarding and surfing were taking off in California. One can think of snowboarding as a combination of skateboarding, surfing, and skiing. Initially, the new sport was looked upon unfavorably by ski resorts. Yet as it continued to gain exposure and popularity, the resorts realized the financial benefits of allowing snowboarders into their parks, and it is now as popular (if not more popular than) skiing at many resorts. Snowboarding in Olympic competition focuses on three events: Halfpipe is much like the vert ramp of skateboarding; Snow Cross, is similar to ski cross; and Parallel Giant Slalom a slalom ski course where two snowboarders race at a time. For more information on the terminology, Adventure Sports Online has a helpful glossary of terms.
There is a mammoth amount of press and information on Shaun White and men’s snowboarding. So, for this post I wanted to focus on the ladies. I’m still not in Olympic form when it comes to my knowledge of snowboarding, but with less than 10 days to do I’ve got to keep moving forward! So, here goes….