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SBD/February 24, 2014/Olympics
More Extreme Sports Could Be Added To Olympics As Youthful Resurgence Felt In Sochi
Published February 24, 2014
BORN IN THE USA: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan wrote competing "away from the home continent certainly didn’t hurt the U.S. extreme sports athletes." The U.S. had a "combined 10 medals -- including five of the country’s nine overall golds -- in slopestyle, halfpipe or snowboard cross events." The men’s and women’s ski and snowboard slopestyle events "were in the Olympics for the first time," as were "men’s and women’s ski halfpipe and the snowboard parallel slalom." USOC Sports Performance Chief Alan Ashley said, "I can’t tell you for sure where we’re going to end up four years from now. We don’t control that. But I’m encouraged by what’s going on here, and I would love us to look at new opportunities. They’re exciting, they bring new athletes in and keep the Winter Games evolving in a very positive way." Sullivan noted extreme sports "also do well on TV, one reason the ratings are high for these Games" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/23). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz wrote, "It seems whenever the Olympics put new sports into the quadrennial program, the U.S tends to dominate. Ah, the power of domestic American television" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/23). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman wrote slopestyle skiing "looks great on TV and a U.S. medal sweep ... was welcome back home" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/23).
GOING MAINSTREAM: In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins wrote snowboarding’s "continued growth in mainstream appeal has made it a popular Olympic sport and brought new eyeballs to the Games." Traditionalists "might not appreciate a well-executed double cork 1080, but the IOC isn’t about to try to put toothpaste back into the tube" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/23). In Chicago, Eric Zorn wrote under the header, "Newer Sports Took The Gold For Excitement." Though snowboardcross and skicross are "relatively new extreme sports," they "best exemplify an ancient essence of athletic competition: Let's race!" Zorn: "No judges. No impenetrable scoring systems. No sequins. No points for artistry. No deductions for minor wobbles" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/23). In Newark, Steve Politi wrote, "Give Team USA credit: They knew it was a matter of time before these X-Games sports were added to the Olympics, and it put a system in place to develop and train athletes. Plus, the medalists were always an entertaining breath of fresh air. Party on, dudes" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/23).
BUILT TO LAST: USA TODAY's Kelly Whiteside notes U.S. officials are "expecting interest in action sports to continue because of the success in Sochi." USSA CMO Mike Jaquet said, "The reason they're going to become popular is because America loves winners and falls in love with these youthful kids. These sports will naturally produce the type of personality that America loves." Whiteside notes because the sport "has been gaining in popularity over the last decade, industry experts expect the explosion to continue." The freeskiing movement has "helped reverse the ski industry's declining sales." Unlike other Olympic sports, extreme ones "don't disappear between the four-year cycle." The Winter X Games is "held yearly and broadcast on ESPN's networks." Plus there is "Dew Tour and USSA Grand Prix events" (USA TODAY, 2/24).