My Dream: Slopestyle makes its Olympic debut

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

WORDS FROM THE WISE

With halfpipe in its fifth showing at the Olympics, veterans like Kelly Clark, Elena Hight, Torah Bright and Shaun White know what to expect for this big pressure-building event. Torah Bright conquered the questionable conditions at the Vancouver Games with solid technical riding when others’ foundations seemed to crumble. Her advice for riders prepping for the Olympics is simple. “Remember… it’s just another snowboard event, and treat it like that. Enjoy the experience because it’s incredible, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. It’s just like any other event.”

Being able to distinguish this mentality prior to the event would be a substantial gain for slopestyle riders. Three-time Olympian, 2002 gold medalist and 2010 bronze medalist, Kelly Clark, has great advice when she says, “If you don’t have it by the time you get there, you’re not going to get it while you’re there.” Kelly continues, “There is a difference between having potential and being prepared, and it is always better looking back and knowing that you did your part to prepare… even if you have a lot of potential.” Kjersti Buaas agrees with Kelly and reminds the newcomers that each athlete is different and will have different needs, both mentally and physically, when she says, “Give yourself the time you feel you need to learn a certain trick and listen to others, but make sure you can hear your own voice; what is the right mindset for you?”

Louie Vito is used to the spotlight, but he mentions that the extra attention may cause a distraction. “There is a lot of media, security, people and more media and security. Take deep breaths and be patient,” Louie says. This information pairs well with Elena Hight’s observation of the Olympics; she explains that the main difference between the Olympics and any other snowboard contest is that the country the athletes are from largely shapes the experience that each athlete has. “Your country’s national team determines a lot of what you do before, during and after. Because we as snowboarders are not used to that type of structure, I think being prepared for the experience to be different is important.”

Danny Davis | P: Gabe L'Heureux Danny Davis | P: Gabe L’Heureux

FOR THE LOVE OF SNOWBOARDING!

These Games will bring snowboarding and slopestyle into the homes of millions of people who don’t currently know snowboarding exists. Kelly Clark reassures us that the viewers that will ultimately lead our sport’s growth will share the passion we all feel for snowboarding. “I have competed in three Olympic Games [for halfpipe] and it has been my experience that they have been positive for the sport,” Clark says. “The more people that experience or get an invitation to experience snowboarding the better off the industry is. It is not about protecting our sport, it is about re-presenting our sport to the world, and as the leaders and influencers we are setting the standard for what it can look like.”

Kelly continues, “Snowboarding has been so successful as an Olympic sport because it is relatable. Most people are not out there bobsledding with their kids on the weekends, but they are out there snowboarding with them. I would expect slopestyle to be very good for the sport, because even if people are not in the park hitting the 70 ft. jumps, they are hitting the 10 ft. ones. And in my book, the more people that get to experience this sport we love the better off the world is.”

Hana Beaman elaborates on this point and also raises a valid concern, “I think it’ll be good for the snowboarding economy. It’ll get more eyes on our sport and more people involved, and that’s good. The only thing I hope is that our passion driven sport isn’t lost now that slopestyle is part of the Games.” Beaman adds, “I’m worried snowboarding will become something that’s just about numbers and contest results and not about the feeling we all get from those couple of awesome pow turns, or building a little jump with your friends and hucking yourself until you’re soaking wet and the sun goes down. I hope that more people that pick up a board become the lifelong shredder and not just a once-and-done.”

Two-time halfpipe Olympian, Elena Hight, concludes, “The Olympics have helped snowboarding grow on a worldwide scale, which has helped our industry grow tremendously, giving us all a better opportunity to truly make careers out of the sport that we love.”

On the next page: The mountains always win

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