So there we go: skateboarding and surfing are in the Olympics – for at least in Tokyo 2020. It got me wondering how snowboarding got in and then what happened.
My relationship with Olympics is contradictory. Although I haven’t won any medals, still Olympics have given me so many opportunities, such as new sponsorships and other possibilities that still benefits me. So I know that for many young riders succeeding there can make a huge difference for their careers. However I do have my concerns.
As snowboarding was selected in to the Olympics I just thought it was cool. All of a sudden you saw more snowboarding on TV (that time it was really rare!) and by watching it I learned more how to ride halfpipe. The first halfpipe competition in Olympics was in 1998 and I was 13 years old, so I really didn’t care if Terje was boycotting or not. All I wanted to do was to see halfpipe riding as much as possible – and that was all that counted. Even by the time I was an Olympian in Torino I hadn’t thought about how Olympics would effect snowboarding. But that was the first time I saw some things that were against my mentality – against the reason why I started snowboarding in the first place.
In all boardsports, no matter what competition is, there are no pattern how some things should be done. Or at least that’s how it used to be. For snowboarding, Olympics totally changed it. Maybe the biggest loss considering our sport is that due the Olympics it became more boring to watch. Nowadays you have standardized parks and halfpipes, and although there are some minor differences here and there, the reality is that pipes and slopestyle courses are based on a same pattern.
Personally I couldn’t understand why I was forced to put on clothes that didn’t represent me, and that my sponsors who were supporting me weren’t allowed to be seen. In a way everything about my lifestyle was taken away for two weeks and all that was left was riding itself. That was the only visible part of me there – and I’m glad it was the biggest part.
Everybody knows Shaun White and in Finland everybody know our silver medals, but I think that the best statement considering Olympics is Heikki Sorsa and his mohawk. As I now think of it, on that hairstyle crystallizes everything of what got me into snowboarding. It’s the freedom to do whatever you want; it’s the counterforce against all conservative sports. As skateboarding and surfing are going to Tokyo, we will see how personalities will become favorites of the core audience, and not necessarily the ones who take home the victories.
As for new Olympic sports, they should take a close look to what snowboarding has gone through after becoming part of the Olympics. For me, boardsports will always represent living in the limits only our minds can make. Unfortunately, International Olympic Committee reduces that and causes especially in skateboarding that people will scatter even more to different categories. In snowboarding that has happened a long time ago, and that’s a shame.
What do you think will happen to skateboarding and surfing now that the sports are in olympics?