He’s famous for his opposition to the Olympics (and his personal boycott in 1998) but now Terje Haakonsen has offered an open invite to Jacques Rogge, the Belgian bureaucrat at the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to talk about the inclusion of slopestyle in the 2014 Olympic games. In a cheekily-worded press release, the snowboarding legend invited Rogge to the Arctic Challenge, “to learn more about snowboarding and slopestyle”.
At the minute, the IOC are holding back on making a definite call on slopestyle because they haven’t seen enough competitions at the highest level. Terje pointed out that because they’re only looking at the events run by the Federation International de Ski (FIS) (which currently controls snowboarding at the Olympics) the lack of high-level comps is unsurprising – the FIS have only held one slopestyle contest so far, and very few of the world’s best riders bothered to turn up for it. Recently, however, there have been encouraging noises made by a Norwegian member of the IOC, Gerhard Heiberg, who suggested in an interview that they might consider the X Games as a legit high-level comp. By throwing open a genuine invite to the man at the top, Terje is hoping that TTR events might be considered in the same way. And no doubt hoping that the notoriously bureaucratic Olympic authorities soften their position on governing bodies, allowing the snowboarders of the TTR, rather than the skiers of the FIS, to administer the new discipline. As he put it:
I support slopestyle at the Olympics as long as it is done by and for snowboarders. The TTR World Tour undertakes 150 slopestyle contests every year in a fair ranking system that delivers over 5000 slopestyle ranking results last season. In snowboarding, we have developed a progressive judging system and have the best TV productions.
He’s also no doubt hoping to avoid the exodus of big-name riders that blighted the TTR World Tour last season, as everyone attended FIS comps instead in order to qualify for Vancouver. As slopestyle is the most-watched competition format these days, it seems increasingly likely that the IOC will include it in the games – not least because of the amount of money the popular discipline would generate. It would be lovely to think that Rogge would accept Terje’s invite, and give the guys with the most knowledge, experience and the best new scoring system the go-ahead to manage the Olympic comps. Unfortunately the reality is he probably won’t. And of course, if he doesn’t, the question is where does that leave the TTR?