CNN Plays With The ‘Devil’

Longtime Ski Union writer Kel couldn’t help himself when he stumbled across this vague little article from CNN as they attempted to explore Freeskiing’s entrance into the Olympics.

When it comes to skiing, do CNN know what they’re talking about?

I read this article from CNN yesterday about how skiing’s ‘dark arts’ are set to invade the Olympics. It was a pretty ridiculous read but I thought I should sleep on it before I write anything. We all know what can happen when you just spout a response without thinking about it! So here goes, one 4 hour kip later…

Is the skiing world shitting itself? Is it slowly going to implode from having two extra ski disciplines added to the Winter Olympics? No. But if you scoured the internet for some information it would seem like we’re about to go through the apocalypse. This must’ve been one thing the Mayans didn’t see coming.

If you give the CNN article a read you’ll notice that they like to focus on ski cross a bit too much. They interviewed Kelsey Serwa because she made the switch from alpine skiing to ski cross and it seems one of the main reasons was that she didn’t really understand the rules to alpine. That’s all well and good but let’s focus on slopestyle and halfpipe before we get caught up in the muggy relationship between the two racing disciplines.

John Fry, President of the International Skiing History Association, labels our freeskiing disciplines as novelties.

“In your great classic sports such as golf and tennis, which I think are comparable to skiing, you have all this history.” He continues to say, “All these novelties, these new events, have very little history to them.”

Yes, well done Mr Fry. You can compare the history of golf and tennis to skiing but alpine skiing, not freestyle. Alpine skiing has a deep-rooted history within the world of sport and already has heroes within it but freeskiing is on its way there. I think it’s incredibly shortsighted to say that slopestyle and halfpipe events are novelties. Freestyle skiing may have kicked off back in the 70s but it’s only really had the surge in popularity that it deserved in the last 10-15 years.

Thankfully CNN decided to interview some real freeskiers to get their opinion. Step up Ilkka and Verneri Hannula, the guys behind Real Skifi. These guys do it the way that the majority of freeskiers have done it over the last few years – get themselves a camera, a small crew, shred as much as possible, film it, post it online. A simple guideline and it’s amassed a fair few fans along the way. We all know that freeskiing’s place has always been the internet and will be for some time to come. The brothers both agree that they find alpine skiing boring to watch and it’s a feeling that is mimicked by a fair amount of skiers. We love our sport because there’s a certain degree of freedom (hence the name). As the sport holds a young audience it comes as no surprise that the rules of alpine skiing aren’t appealing, whereas the freedom of expression within freeskiing is.

I understand that CNN might be writing an article for their audience, however upper-middle class they may believe it is, but it seems a bit of a pointless fire to stoke. Alpine skiing won’t dwindle in popularity, at least not for a long, long time. Freestyle doesn’t have the same television coverage that alpine does and until that happens there’s nothing to be worried about. An article like the CNN one will only drive more people to the internet to view Real Skifi and other edits, which only hampers the ‘argument’ they have. I say ‘hampers’ because it’s a bit of a fence-sitting argument but they’re leaning to one side.

With the growing-in-popularity Winter X Games and Winter Dew Tour, the TV time will come. I’m going out on a limb and I’ll say that alpine skiing will never lose its spot as the ‘dominant’ skiing sport but it had better make some room because the freeskiers are coming through, despite all the ‘alpine is awesome, freeskiing is the devil’ articles you may find out there.


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