Terje Haakonsen has made no secret of his opinion on the current state of snowboarding, especially where the Olympics is concerned. Fifteen years on from the first Arctic Challenge event, he’s hoping that its latest incarnation is able to shake things up and, in his words, “push progression for snowboarding” once again.
He’s released a full statement, which you can read below. Thanks to the fine folk at YoBeat for flagging this up:
06 January 2014 • Freestyle snowboarding started with halfpipe 30 years ago. For a long time, snowboarding and halfpipe was the same thing. This is where freestyle snowboarding was born, but now it is a dying art form. The standardisation of pipes and contest formats kills the interest. The riding on the top level reaches new heights and rotations, but still fewer and fewer snowboarders start with pipe. Just like with gymnastics, we risk ending up with only a top elite of snowboarders having their 15 minutes of fame every four year in the Olympics. Very little has happened since halfpipe entered the Olympics. Today we have less halfpipes, fewer riders, almost no prize money, terrible tv-ratings, almost no events and little spectators at the events.
The Arctic Challenge 2014 will be an attempt to get the “free style” and interest back into halfpipe snowboarding. Basically get snowboarding riding back to snowboard contests. We will experiment with different formats and halfpipe obstacles that can be suitable for halfpipe contests. We know there are many good people out there doing great stuff, so we are not saying we have the final formula. There is definitely room for changes. And we are not the only ones being frustrated of the decline in interest for the halfpipe. But we would like to invite a few riders, media and key industry people to push progression for snowboarding on The Arctic Challenge platform.
In 2014 it is 15 years since we did the pilot event. The background was much the same: People were frustrated. Back then, we made a concept where riders could strongly influence the infrastructure, contest and presentation. In March 2014 we will invite riders to help develop the future format of halfpipe contests with us. We will work with SPT to make a pipe that has more than two basic walls. We will present a slightly different pipe pipe and contest format for a packed Oslo audience on March 15.
As we gonna experiment with setup and contest format, we will not have a live tv event. There will be plenty of media exposure, though, with a 44 minute sports documentary as the main thing. We also have a great partnership Snowboarder Magazine. We will also deliver a solid concept for content sharing on social media platforms.
It’s not gonna be a ranking event, but we are working together with the World Snowboard Tour. And we are offering appearance fee and some prize money for all. All riders will get their share.
Please contact us on [email protected] if you are interested in joining this project – rookies or established. We are looking for world class riders that are comfortable with both transition and park elements, and it doesn’t hurt if you can speak your mind in front of a tv camera.
Arrival day is March 11th. Pipe is open from the 12th to the 15th. TAC is part of the newly established Oslo Winterfestival, and there will a good crowd on the “finals” on March 15th. We will cover your hotel, food and travel here in Norway.
What do you think? Will Terje’s plan get the long-term interest back into snowboarding work? Or is the potential for Olympic glory going to keep the most gifted riders rehearsing that one perfect halfpipe run? Let us know in the comments below.