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Slopestyle success whets Olympic appetite for new sports

Slopestyle success whets Olympic appetite for new sports

NEW SPORTS: Winner Sage Kotsenburg of the U.S. celebrates after the men's snowboard slopestyle final competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor, Feb. 8. Kotsenburg won the men's snowboarding slopestyle. Photo: Reuters

By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Long before American Sage Kotsenburg grabbed the inaugural slopestyle snowboarding gold medal at the Sochi Olympics on Saturday it was clear the new event would be an instant hit.

With legions of young followers around the world, the gravity-defying event took the Olympic world by storm, leaving the International Olympic Committee wanting more such changes.

“It is just extraordinary,” said IOC sports director Christophe Dubi on Monday.

SPECIAL SECTION: 2014 Winter Olympics

“If you take a step back and you are sitting where you are, or where we are at the IOC, I think one thing we share in common is the desire for ultimate emotions.”

“We thought it was the ultimate experience. It is really a grand entrance for slopestyle,” he said, sitting next to gold medalist Kotsenburg.

Dubi, who will soon take over as the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director, said the event showed the need to reshuffle the sports program quicker.

“For the IOC what is at play is to review the program on a regular basis to make sure it remains relevant,” he said. “Of course, we need to preserve our history. At the same time we have to remain relevant and make sure that we capture new audience as well.”

The IOC is to review how many and how quickly sports can be added to the Games with a December 2014 session to decide on a string of changes, including scrapping a seven-year waiting period for new sports to join the Olympics.

Golf and rugby are the most recent sports additions to the Games with the two sports taking part in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer Olympics.

Events of an existing Olympic sport can be added up to two years in advance. A dozen new events were included in the Sochi Games program.

“There is a desire for more flexibility,” said Dubi. “There is consensus that things will evolve and evolve for the better.”

Kotsenburg said the slopestyle event had instantly breathed fresh air into the Games.

“I think the world needed to see slopestyle,” the American told reporters. “Because snowboarding is a different sport than figure skating or gymnastics.

“We come from a crazy background,” said Kotsenburg, who believes a Big Air event could also be included in the Olympic snowboarding competition.

“We’re all really different and individual people, and this is what the kids are doing nowadays. So we’re all definitely stoked to be in the Olympics.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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