BRECKENRIDGE - When skiing's international governing body, the International Federation of Skiing (FIS), last spring proposed cutting costs for the Winter Olympics in Sochi by combining snowboard and ski judges for the Olympic debut of slopestyle, athletes resoundingly panned the plan.
The FIS scuttled the proposal, but the idea that the stodgy, bureaucratic ski government would even ponder snowboarders judging skiing and vice versa struck fear in both camps. As slopestyle begins its Olympic qualifying World Cup contests at Copper Mountain; Park City, Utah; Switzerland; and Sochi, Russia, in the next few months, skiing and snowboarding athletes are raising their voices to make sure their nascent, style-heavy sport is not debased with ill-conceived course designs and awkward judging criteria.
"A lot of people don't really want to go to the Olympics because they think it's not the right thing for the sport, and I agree. The Olympics are not why we ski," said Sweden's Henrik Harlaut, who placed third in a sketchy ski slopestyle contest featuring gusting winds and blinding snow Sunday at Breckenridge's Dew Tour stop. "But if skiers who are good go there, we could change it so at least it's as cool as it can be."
Harlaut would like to see a wide variety of rails and jumps - much like the course designs at the Dew Tour and X Games.
"What we don't want to see is some crazy Russian or someone who is an aerialist coming in and ski for a year and do crazy double or triple corks or whatever," Harlaut said. "We have to see different tricks and style so it's not just 'spin to win.'"
Freeskiing was born in the moguls, with skiers drawn to the aerial tricks. Back then, a decade ago, skiers were not allowed in the snowboarders' halfpipes and terrain parks.