SBD/January 27, 2011/Olympics

X Games' Influence On Winter Olympics Continues To Grow

Winter X Games 15 will take place in Aspen today through Sunday
Although IOC officials "do not credit the X Games directly with influencing what winds up in their program, many recent additions" to the Olympics "earned their start at the Winter X Games," which get underway today in Aspen, according to Matt Higgins of the N.Y. TIMES. It "began with halfpipe snowboarding," followed by snowboard cross and ski cross. Now three more events -- ski halfpipe and snowboard and ski slopestyle -- "appear set to become the latest, in time" for the '14 Sochi Games. All three events already are "part of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games," and adding them to the Olympics "would continue a trend." After the "success of ski cross and snowboarding halfpipe" at the Vancouver Games, the Int'l Ski Federation has "fast-tracked Winter X Games mainstays ski halfpipe and snowboard and ski slopestyle." IOC President Jacques Rogge is "expected to announce their inclusion by the end of April." Higgins noted ski halfpipe and slopestyle would be the "first freeskiing events in the Olympics." Freeskiing is a "new-school movement and has a sensibility similar to snowboarding" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/26). Ski halfpipe competitor Sarah Burke: "I'm really excited. It's something I've been pushing for for a long time." Fellow ski halfpipe athlete Jen Hudak said, "I think the Olympic decision will certainly start bringing more athletes out of the woodwork, get them more in the mix. It's a big carrot." But USA TODAY's Vicki Michaelis noted "not everyone in freeskiing is embracing the Olympic possibility." Burke noted that detractors are concerned that Olympic inclusion "will suffocate the sport's carefree spirit with rules and restrictions similar to those that turned many freeskiers away from moguls after that sport was added to the Olympics" in '92 (USA TODAY, 1/26).
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