World Juniors Foreshadow Future


USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt

September, 2010

This  August, in addition to traditional Southern Hemisphere summer camps, a  collection of 40 U.S. teenaged freeriders and snowboarders headed to New  Zealand for an historic Junior World Championship that represented the  continuing evolution of our action sports.
In a first for the  International Ski Federation (FIS), the Junior World Championships in  snowboarding and freestyle were combined into one event drawing 325  athletes from 28 nations. Among the weeklong contests were ski cross and  snowboardcross, ski and snowboarding slopestyle, plus ski and  snowboarding halfpipe.

Just as freestyle and snowboarding changed the landscape of winter sports over the last two decades,  freeride is evolving it yet again. Go to any resort in America and watch  the action in the pipes and parks. It's skiers and snowboarders riding  together. It's a new generation bringing thousands of kids into our  sports. Snow parks are becoming an epicenter for skiers and snowboarders  together.
Snow Sports New Zealand led the way in developing  the summer showcase, with the FIS playing a key role. The FIS Freestyle  Committee put rules and protocols in place to make the historic event  possible. It was the first ever FIS ski slopestyle event, and  the first World Championship level snowboarding slopestyle competition.
It's part of a progressive evolution of winter sports by the FIS  spurred on by active national associations, including the USSA. Thanks  to those efforts, winter sports have evolved and modernized in every  Olympics since 1992, staying relevant with consumer interest worldwide.  The International Olympic Committee is watching this closely, with ski  halfpipe and snowboarding slopestyle being considered for 2014 this  fall.
The key to the success of these events has been their  connectivity to what's actually happening in the sport. It's what kids  are doing at resorts and it's what spectators want to see and  experience.
While the popularity of alpine and nordic skiing,  along with the traditional events in freestyle and snowboarding,  continues to thrive, the new disciplines are attracting more athletes and  fans to winter sports, as well as new venues - especially in metro  areas where snow parks can reach millions of potential participants.
The USSA is among a group of nations at the forefront of this  evolution, working within the FIS to help evolve winter sports and push  meaningful events to the IOC. This December, the USSA will take another  step when both snowboarding and ski halfpipe athletes will share the  venue with back-to-back events at our Visa U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix in  Copper Mountain in the 22-foot superpipe.
Hats off to Snow  Sports New Zealand for its leadership and for the work undertaken by the  FIS to make it happen! Millions of kids worldwide are finding our sport  through pipes and parks. That's a strong point of consideration for the  IOC which will meet to discuss ski halfpipe and snowboarding slopestyle  next month. It's time those events come to the public as Olympic  competitions.
Bill Marolt
President and CEO
U.S. Ski  and Snowboard Association


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