Eight events have been added to the program for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Ski mountaineering, a new sport added to the 2026 program last year, will have a men’s sprint, women’s sprint and a mixed-gender relay.
New events in existing sports include men’s and women’s dual moguls in freestyle skiing, breaking up the open luge doubles event (where only men have competed) into men’s doubles and women’s doubles, a mixed-gender skeleton team event and a women’s large hill event in ski jumping to match the men’s ski jumping program.
The Alpine skiing team event, which debuted at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, has been cut. Also in Alpine skiing, the combined events are being included provisionally on the 2026 program and are subject to further review with a final decision no later than April.
On the Alpine World Cup, there were no combined events either of the last two seasons and there are none planned this upcoming season. The combined is still on the biennial world championships program.
The IOC said that Nordic combined is in a “very concerning situation” for staying on the Olympic program beyond 2026.
The IOC said Nordic combined “had by far the lowest audience numbers” over the last three Olympics. It noted that the 27 medals won in the sport among 2014, 2018 and 2022 were spread across “only” four nations.
Its inclusion in the 2030 Winter Olympics depends on significant developments in global participation and audience.
Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport without female representation.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) began holding women’s Nordic combined World Cups in December 2020. A women’s event debuted at the world championships in February 2021. FIS hoped it would help lead to 2026 Winter Olympic inclusion.
The IOC chose not to add a women’s event for 2026, citing having “only one world championship to date” that had 10 nations represented and the medals won by one nation (Norway). Karl Stoss, chair of the IOC Olympic program commission, said those numbers do not meet universality criteria.
Nordic combined officials believed that their sport was in danger of being dropped from the Olympic program if the IOC opted against adding a women’s event.
The decisive argument for keeping men’s Nordic combined on the 2026 program without a women’s event was the proximity — male athletes are already preparing for the Games.
Men’s events in Nordic combined, which includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing, have been on the program since the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
The IOC said the overall event changes will make 2026 the most gender-balanced Winter Games in history, upping female participation from 45.4 percent in 2022 to 47 percent.
Due to event quota changes, the overall number of athletes is expected to remain around 2,900.
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World Archery, the sports global governing body, has proposed the inclusion of compound archery in the Olympics and the proposal is officially being considered for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
If approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), compound archery will be included alongside the current recurve event in the sports programme of the LA28 Olympic Games, World Archery said in a release from Lausanne, Switzerland.
This will open up a medal opportunity for upcoming nations like India, which has won many medals in compound archery at the international level. South Korea has dominated the recurve section winning 43 medals in all with USA second with 33.
The proposal from World Archery is for an additional indoor archery competition for men, women and mixed teams that would last approximately three days, shorter than the current nine-day Olympic schedule, said the release carried on the official website of World Archery.
Competing over 18 metres and indoors, in comparison to the 70-metre outdoor recurve format, would clearly differentiate the two events while building on the successful professional indoor archery circuit that is already well-established in the USA, the host nation of the next Games after Paris 2024, the release informed.
The request will now be assessed by the International Olympic Committee, alongside submissions from other sports, before a final decision is made.
Compound is a modern bow style invented in the 1960s that uses a system of pulleys and cables, along with release aids and magnified scopes, to increase the bow’s speed and accuracy. The compound competition emphasises precision, tension and perfection.
It has featured at the World Archery Championships since 1995 and on the Hyundai Archery World Cup since its launch in 2006. Compound events are included in the sports programmes of the Asian Games, European Games, Pan American Games, World Games and World University Games.
Archery is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its return to the Olympics in 2022. The sport featured on the programme of the Games in 1900-1908 and 1920 before taking a 52-year hiatus until 1972.
The number of available medals has since risen from two to five with the introduction of recurve team competitions – and the mixed team at Tokyo 2020.
“For nearly 30 years, compound and recurve have been treated equally within the sport of archery, while World Archery has invested considerable resources in developing the discipline at grassroots and elite levels worldwide,” World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen was quoted as saying in the release.
“Compound is now an important event, alongside recurve, in many major continental and regional Games as well as the World Games. We have seen phenomenal growth in participation and results, particularly from female athletes, and particularly in countries with aspiring sporting legacies like India, Colombia and Mexico,” he added.
All Olympics Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games have been declared as events of national importance
All Olympics Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games have been declared as events of national importance
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has notified several sporting events as that of national importance under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act.
The notification, which supersedes the earlier one issued in March 2021, has declared all Olympics Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games as events of national importance.
The following list is not exhaustive: under the cricket category, all official One-Day, Twenty-20 and Test matches played by the Indian men’s and women’s cricket team and all International Cricket Council (ICC) Test matches featuring India; semi-finals and finals of ICC men’s and women’s One-Day international World Cup; semi-finals and finals of ICC men’s and women’s Twenty-20 World Cup have been recognised. All semi-finals and finals of ICC Champions Trophy (One Day);all semi-finals and finals of ICC World Test Championship; semi-finals and finals of ICC Men’s and Women’s Asia Cup (Twenty -20 and One-Day International); and India playing matches, semi-finals and finals of Under-19 World Cup are also in the list.
The tennis category includes all matches featuring India in Davis Cup, and in Grand Slam tournaments, finals of men’s singles, women’s singles and all matches featuring Indian player from the quarter-finals onwards; and Grand Slam tournaments – all such matches featuring Indian player in men’s doubles, women’s doubles or mixed doubles from quarter-finals onwards.
The notification states that under the hockey category, World Cup – all matches featuring India and semi-finals and finals; Champions Trophy – all matches featuring India and finals; Indira Gandhi Gold Cup for women semi-finals and finals; Hockey India sub-junior national championship and Hockey India Academy National Championship; Hockey Men’s Junior Men World Cup (only when India is the host country); Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – all matches featuring India, semi-finals and finals; and International Hockey Federation – Hockey Pro League matches have been recognised.
The football category includes World Cup – opening match, quarter finals, semi-finals and finals; Asia Cup – all matches featuring India and semi-finals and finals; Santosh Trophy – semi-finals and finals; Asian Women’s Football Cup (only when India is the host country); under-17 Federation Internationale de Football Association Women’s World Cup (only when India is the host country); and World Cup (under-17) – opening match, quarter finals, semi-finals and finals.
The badminton events are all England Open Badminton Championship – all matches featuring Indian players, semi-finals and finals; and Badminton World Federation World Cup Championship – all matches featuring Indian players, semi-finals and finals.
While Kabaddi World Cup – all matches featuring India, semi-finals and finals – has also been recognised; Khelo India Games, Khelo India School Games, Khelo India Youth Games, Khelo India University Games, Khelo India Games for differently-abled persons, Khelo India Games for Indigenous Sports and Khelo India Winter Games have also been listed as events of national importance.
The other events include International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup, Commonwealth Shooting Championship and Commonwealth Archery Championship (only when India is the host country), and international events organised by the National Sports Federations have been recognised by the Central government.
The Training Ground program travels across the country putting athletes through their paces in tests of endurance, speed, and strength.
“We are able to take these scores that these athletes do today and match them up against benchmarks. That information is passed on to our nine partner sports that are involved in RBC [Training Ground]. If anyone gets close to the scores that we are looking for, the sports will then connect with them and try to bring them into their programs,” explained Andrew Latham, who works for Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, which helps run the RBC Training Ground program.
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RBC program helps find Olympic athletic talent
RBC program helps find Olympic athletic talent – Jan 18, 2022
The testing can act as a bridge between young athletes and lesser-known sports. It can help identify athletes who might excel at a particular discipline even if they’ve never competed in that sport.
“Kids may be in the right sport. But they may not be in the right sport and part of this program is to try to find what might be a better fit for them,” Latham said.
Among those looking for athletes who show potential, was Wes Hammer of Canoe Kayak BC whose sport requires good aerobic capacity and strength.
Hammer said the Training Ground program is a good way to direct athletes competing in more high-profile sports to other sports where they have more potential.
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“We are really trying to redirect athletes who have maybe started in a different sport such as swimming or even hockey, who won’t make the Olympics or high levels in those sports but they could in our sport,” Hammer said.
Latham said five athletes who went through the RBC Training Ground program competed at the Beijing Olympics and three won medals.
Track athlete Avery Willis said the testing also helped with her personal training.
“I think it is a great opportunity to kind of get a feel of where my skill set is at the moment and look at what I need to train and work on in the future,” Willis said.
With Olympics in mind, Saskatoon track and field athlete shifts gears to cycling
With Olympics in mind, Saskatoon track and field athlete shifts gears to cycling – Apr 22, 2021
Others were there looking for athletic direction.
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Bradley Spurge recently wrapped up a college volleyball career and was at the event looking for new challenges.
“Myself, I came here really looking for the jump test and the sprint test and hoping that those can take me in a direction because…I just finished my years at the college, so that career is done, but I don’t think my body is done. So hopefully these results go out to a few of the coaches and maybe I get chatting with them to see if we can go somewhere,” Spurge said.
“I am so open to jumping into anything if they tell me I’m going to fit in there. I sure know I’m going to give it my all and hope I can prove them right.”
Spurge said when he was a kid he searched online for “How to be in the Olympics” and still dreams of representing Canada.
GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central Schools are spreading the word about hosting two Special Olympics events in mid-May for students with disabilities, in hopes that the public may want to attend.
The Special Olympics/Unified Champion Schools (SO/UCS) program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade will take place at Greenfield-Central High School on May 16. A separate Special Olympics for preschoolers will take place at J.B. Stephens Elementary School on May 18.
Robin LeClaire, director of student services, said the corporation is inviting the public to get involved by attending or volunteering at the event.
“We couldn’t host it last year due to COVID, but the last year we did do one a lot of people were saying they wished they had known about it because they would have liked to have attended or been involved,” she said.
This will be the second time Greenfield-Central has hosted the Special Olympics program, with the first being in 2019.
LeClaire said the special event features an opening ceremony and awards ceremony, just like the worldwide Olympics.
Students from the general education population are also invited to help out with the event that is centered around students with disabilities.
“It’s amazing to watch our kids come together and learn about differences and acceptance,” said Rachel Ross-Kroemer, Greenfield-Central’s assistant director of special education.
“This is a program where students with and without disabilities participate in activities together throughout the year to promote inclusion awareness in their schools and communities … Our schools have been busy planning whole school engagement activities that focus on student leadership and encourages awareness, respect, acceptance and inclusion of those with disabilities,” she said.
Each of the school district’s participating schools lead fundraising events to raise money for Special Olympics Indiana throughout the school year, which culminates with the Unified Sports event — known as Game Days — in May.
Ross-Kroemer said the Mt. Vernon school district is the pioneer of hosting Special Olympics events in Hancock County, but that Greenfield-Central is making strides.
Hosting the Special Olympics is a huge accomplishment for Greenfield-Central schools, she said, which have been working to increase opportunities for kids with disabilities since withdrawing seven years ago from a cooperative that took care of that initiative.
“We’re super proud of the inclusive practices and inclusive culture we have been growing in our district, not just through this program, but through the type of classrooms and programming we’ve offered for kids with disabilities in general,” said Ross-Kroemer.
“We also pair special education teachers with general education teachers as our building leaders, and that’s been a phenomenal change for us because it really always has been about having all of our kids represented here,” she said.
As for the Special Olympics games, “When you see the pure joy on these kids’ faces as they participate in these activities that they’ve practiced for all year, it is so moving,” said Ross-Kroemer, adding that the best part is the feeling of inclusion the participants get by working alongside their peers without disabilities.
“Just the symbol of acceptance that you see during these Game Day events is awesome to see,” she said.
Ross-Kroemer credits the local educators, sponsors and law enforcement officials who make the day possible.
“Officers from the Greenfield and Hancock County departments will meet our busses and escort them to the school then escort the torch holders onto the field. It makes the day even more special to have them there,” she said.
This year’s Game Day for students in kindergarten through eighth grade takes place at the Greenfield-Central High School football field, from 9:15-11:15 a.m. Monday, May 16.
Game Day for preschoolers takes place indoors at J.B. Stephens Elementary School from 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, May 18. Admission is free at both events.
For more information, contact Ross-Kroemer at [email protected] or 317-462-4491, ext. 41203.
While the preceding Tokyo Games had eight events for men and five for women, in Paris there will be seven events for the male pugilists and six for the female
While the preceding Tokyo Games had eight events for men and five for women, in Paris there will be seven events for the male pugilists and six for the female
Aiming to achieve gender equality, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has increased the number of boxing events for women in the 2024 Paris Olympics from five to six as per a revised list.
While the preceding Tokyo Games had eight events for men and five for women, in Paris there will be seven events for the male pugilists and six for the female, according to an update shared by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra.
The new categories for men are 51kg, 57kg, 63.5kg, 71kg, 80kg, 92kg and +92kg.
While the new women’s weight classes include 50kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 75kg.
The changes are in line with the trend of increasing women’s weight classes as the Rio Olympics only had three, which was increased by two for the Tokyo Games.
In shooting, the trap mixed team event has been replaced with skeet mixed team event.
As far as weightlifting is concerned, as PTI reported last December the number of events has come down to 10 (5 men and 5 women) from 14 events in Tokyo.
The competition schedule for the Paris Olympic Games was unveiled on April 1, after being approved by the IOC executive board.
In total 32 sports are set to be contested across 19 days of action, with 329 events due to take place across 762 sessions.
Action is scheduled to begin on July 24, two days before the Opening Ceremony is due to be held.
On a recent episode of Fallon Tonight, Ben Stiller described his experience catching some of the men’s snowboard slopestyle final from the 2022 Winter Olympics. As he admitted, he had no institutional knowledge of the sport going in, but by the end of the contest, he was invested in the outcome—namely, the judging.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, Red Gerard just nailed his 1620 switch backside, and then McMorris does the same trick and the judge gives McMorris a higher score!’” Stiller recalled as Fallon laughed. “When is the IOC going to clamp down on the International Ski Federation and police the judging protocols so we can have fair and balanced judging?!”
It was a funny, offhand anecdote from a comedian, made for late-night TV…and yet it encapsulated perfectly the pervasive feeling hanging over the snowboarding community since the Olympics wrapped.
Those in the industry don’t need it rehashed. But for those who may have missed it, there were two major snowboarding judging controversies at the Beijing Games—in men’s slopestyle and men’s halfpipe—and a more general sense of confusion and frustration from riders across many of the events.
In the men’s slopestyle final, Canadian Max Parrot took gold with a score of 90.96 on his best run. The silver and bronze medalists, China’s Su Yiming and Canada’s Mark McMorris, scored an 88.70 and 88.53, respectively, on their best runs—within striking distance of Parrot.
But on his golden run, Parrot grabbed his knee instead of the front of his board, which could have docked him enough points for execution that the podium would have been shuffled.
At the time, Iztok Sumatic, the head judge for Olympic Snowboarding, told Whitelines magazine that Parrot’s run and grab looked clean on the camera angle they were provided from the program feed.
The judges can request a replay if they think something went wrong, but the feed they are provided is a straight program feed with no individual cameras and no replays. Because the run looked clean, the judges did not request a replay.
“Whoever watched it from that angle, almost every single person—if he or she was being honest—would have said that’s a good execution,” Sumatic told Whitelines.
“There were six incredibly skilled judges that were watching the main issue, and not a single one of them questioned what they saw until the replays came and by that point, it’s too late—the scores are already in, basically,” Sandy Macdonald told me. Macdonald was not on the judging panel for the Beijing Games, but he has judged X Games and the Olympics and is currently the head judge for the Natural Selection Tour, a big-mountain snowboarding contest created by Travis Rice.
Riders can also appeal an Olympic podium outcome for up to 15 minutes following a contest, but that didn’t happen at these Games.
The other potential judging controversy at the Games was, in the end, avoided. With Todd Richards on the call for NBC in the men’s halfpipe final, audiences watched as 23-year-old Ayumu Hirano attempted to land the first-ever triple cork (three off-axis flips) at the Olympics.
He did it on his second run, which saw him go frontside triple 1440 (four full rotations), Cab (switch frontside) double 1440, frontside double 1260, backside double 1260 and frontside double 1440.
The run earned Hirano a score of 91.75…which was 1.25 points lower than Australia’s Scotty James at the top of the leaderboard. James hadn’t done a triple—no one but Hirano would—but the judges liked his highly technical and difficult run that saw him do a switch backside 1260, Cab double 1440, frontside 900, backside 1260 and frontside double 1440.
“That was the most difficult halfpipe run in the history of halfpipe that has ever been done,” Richards said on the broadcast of Hirano’s run. Apoplectic, Richards said that the judges had “grenaded” their credibility by scoring Hirano’s run so low. Viewers who don’t regularly watch snowboarding responded positively to Richards’ passion, and for a time, the subject was trending on Twitter.
It’s a divisive issue, to be sure. James’ run was, technically, more difficult—he spun all four directions (frontside, backside, Cab and switch backside) and his switch backside 1260 Weddle grab, in particular, is one of the hardest tricks being done in the pipe.
On the third and final runs, Hirano did the triple again—in fact, he did the same run and cleaned it up—and the judges gave him a score of 96 to win it all, avoiding further controversy.
But the irony of the whole situation is that, four years ago in Pyeongchang, James suggested that the judges weren’t valuing the difficulty of switch frontside tricks and spinning all four directions, generally, high enough. This time around, they clearly tried to do that…and it blew up in their faces.
The men’s slopestyle final featured six section judges—two per feature—and three overall impression judges, as well as Sumatic as head judge. The same six judges were also on the halfpipe final.
Much of the ire following Parrot’s missed grab was directed at the judges, but in truth, this was a bigger, administrative problem rooted in process.
More broadly—and more apparent to those outside the snowboarding community—the Olympics production crew, not specializing in filming live snowboarding events, struggled with camera angles and framing—including capturing the angles judges needed to definitively grade runs.
There was a chuckle-worthy moment during a run in the men’s big air final—in which landing, along with difficulty, execution and amplitude, is a crucial judging criteria—where pro snowboarder and commentator Kelly Clark said, “Let’s get another look at that landing.” The broadcast never showed that angle, and Clark had to shift into a new line of commentary.
Now, to be clear, what Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) has been doing in every Winter Games since Vancouver 2010—providing live radio and television coverage of every sport from every venue and using some 1,000 cameras and a production crew of 7,000-plus—is no small feat, and very few agencies in the world could do it successfully.
The fact remains, however, that snowboarding and other action sports events are particularly challenging to film, and there are production teams that are dedicated exclusively to those sports.
“We all understand in the Olympics it’s hard to just focus on one sport,” said Jordan Velarde, the founder and CEO of Uncle Toad’s Media Group, a video production house specializing in action sports live broadcasts. After producing the Vans Park Series and Volcom Pipe Pro skate and surf events for years, for the last two years the company has led the entire production of the Natural Selection Tour.
“They have to do so much coverage; they bring all the bells and whistles,” Velarde continued. “The Olympic way of covering these sports is a specialty in itself…. You want to have a concise vision when you watch it.”
That being said, Velarde and Uncle Toad’s creative director Chris Steblay both agree that authenticity and understanding of a sport’s culture are the most important aspects of producing a live broadcast. The criticism of the way snowboarding was broadcast at the Beijing Games, they said, stemmed from the inauthentic production of the sport.
“What happened in the Olympics was something that would be devastating for us as a production company,” Velarde said. “We make sure we are talking with judges, having the right camerapeople, making sure what we’re providing is the proper coverage.”
Velarde was brought in by NBC for the Tokyo 2020 Games to work on its first-ever skateboarding broadcast, using his production expertise to advise on everything from where the cameras need to be and how to set them up properly to how to give the audience the best coverage of the sport.
In “stick-and-ball sports,” Velarde explains, you always know where to put the camera. For sports like snowboarding and freestyle skiing, capturing the action could involve getting thousands of pounds of equipment and hundreds of cameras up the top of a mountain.
In producing Natural Selection, a first-of-its-kind snowboarding contest that follows riders as they weave through trees and hit jumps and other features in remote mountain terrain, Uncle Toad’s had to innovate to create a broadcast that would honor the spirit of the contest.
In 2021, the team developed and implemented a novel camera angle—a live stabilized racing drone, with a first-person view like that of a video game—in partnership with world championship racer Gabriel Kocher. The event production earned Uncle Toad’s and Natural Selection Tour a Bronze Clio.
Macdonald told me the drone footage was a “game-changer” for the Natural Selection judges. “We get a sense of watching the drone of how fast the rider’s riding down the course,” he said.
“What I saw at the Olympics this cycle—and again, this was from my couch—has been my experience with other large multisport events mostly,” Macdonald added. “I saw a bunch of sports camerapeople that don’t necessarily know how to make snowboarding look its best. One of the things I always stress—you can be the best TV producer in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a good view for what judges need to judge the sport.”
Macdonald’s “gold standard” for judging these kinds of events would be the exact same camera shot every time for every rider—which, of course, is at odds with what makes for a good broadcast. “What makes good judging is consistency, and consistency in an event with 60 runs is a boring show,” Macdonald said.
“It’s incredibly difficult to try to film an event or sport that you’re not familiar with,” explains Eric Seymour, director of brand communications and content at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which hosts the first stop of the Natural Selection Tour and Kings & Queens of Corbet’s, a one-day ski and snowboard freeride contest that sees athletes hucking themselves down the famed Corbet’s Couloir.
“You need to be able to anticipate where the skier or where the rider is going to track with the action.”
For Kings & Queens alone, 90 days before the event the JHMR production team oversees a team of 45 people from multiple states that transports 6,000 pounds of gear, including almost a dozen generators, up the mountain via tram, on foot, or on skis. They also run 4,000 feet of tactical fiber, 1,000 feet of power cables, 1,500 feet of video cables and 1,000 feet of audio cables to support 15 cameras to make sure the action is captured correctly from every angle.
The events crew for this kind of contest consists of expert-level skiers and riders who can ski black diamond slopes with 45-pound tripods, rigging up camerapeople who are standing on top of cliffs—or often hanging over them on ropes—to get the best angles.
Of course, the Olympics is not a big-mountain freeride contest like Natural Selection Tour or Kings & Queens, and it doesn’t require nearly the level of technical prowess to pull off.
But that’s also kind of the bottom line—skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics takes place on standardized courses, and though riders can hit the slopestyle course or the halfpipe in their own stylistic way, they can’t take completely different lines off the side of a mountain.
It shouldn’t be difficult for judges to receive the angles and feeds they need to judge accurately and quickly in real time—even acknowledging what a Herculean task that is to begin with.
“I’ve ridden slope and big air comps for so long now that I know what the judges are looking for,” said Zoi Sadowski-Synnott, the 21-year-old Olympic gold medalist in women’s snowboard slopestyle and silver medalist in big air. “In slope and big air there’s pretty much a template that you follow, but you can get creative with it and that gives you an extra wow for the judges.
“Going into the Olympics I knew exactly what I needed to do to win gold,” Sadowski-Synnott added. “For me it was a matter of putting it down on the day, and the judges were awesome with how they judged it.”
Julia Marino, the silver medalist in women’s slopestyle and the only American slopestyle medalist, agreed that in the women’s competition, there were no questions about the judging. “It seemed pretty accurate; no one had any complaints while we were there, it seemed like it was pretty on-point which was nice,” Marino said. “It was unfortunate for the boys that it wasn’t I guess what it could have been. It’s a human-judged sport and there’s obviously room for error. We’ll see if this Olympics sparks more conversation about that.”
We’ve established what can go wrong in filming a live snowboarding contest. So what is the solution?
“If we’re talking explicitly about OBS and the way they produce these sports, it needs to be a concerted effort to include professionals in their process of planning,” Steblay said. “In surfing’s Olympic debut [in Tokyo Games], although the conditions weren’t ideal you had a team that’s been doing WSL [World Surf League] events for a decade all gathered producing surfing in the Olympics for the first time ever. They all knew how to do surfing.”
While Steblay acknowledges the Tokyo surfing broadcast had some technical issues like cutting the cameras at the right times, overall, the production felt authentic within the surfing broadcast world. It didn’t look all that different from a WSL broadcast, but it had Olympic touches to it.
“It takes care to make sure whoever you’re including in those creative decision-making processes does care about the way it’s covered,” Steblay continued. “It shows.”
As an example of another contest that gets it right, Macdonald points to the Laax Open, which has a cable cam runs the full length of the course. “That’s perfect for judging for us,” he said.
And contests like the Olympics don’t necessarily need the kind of groundbreaking equipment and filming that accompanies a remote, big-mountain contest. The halfpipe at Laax is permanent, whereas the Olympics, of course, changes venues every four years.
A cable cam on the Olympic halfpipe course would be fantastic for judging, but it’s an unlikely investment given the ephemeral nature of the course. (Now, there’s a separate argument that the winter Olympics should be held in the same location every time, allowing for better infrastructure and investment in the courses—as well as natural snow—but that’s another article.)
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a good drone follow-though of a slopestyle course,” Macdonald said. “Just in general, better camera work is the key.”
Of course, there is a limited talent pool of camerapeople capable of shooting this kind of event—and the Olympics isn’t the highest-paying event.
“I can count on two hands who does these sort of things,” Macdonald said.
Even without hiring the few camerapeople in the world who are skilled in shooting live snowboarding contests, Macdonald says one of the biggest pluses would be having someone in the TV truck who knows snowboarding and knows judging and can champion what they need from the camera angles within the production.
“One of the things that we always see is what we call ‘guy in the sky,’ the tight close crop shot,” Macdonald said. “That might be interesting for ultra-slow motion viewing but it’s absolutely useless for us as judges. It shows very little of what we need to evaluate.”
And even endemic snowboarding events have identified areas for improvement in their own broadcasts. In Kings & Queens’ 2019 iteration, Jackson Hole partnered with Red Bull on the media side but hired a third-party production company to do the livestream, which encountered numerous issues—missed runs and poor audio.
So in 2020, Red Bull took over the production to ensure it was done right, bringing in more than 5,000 pounds of production gear and top-notch commentators. They added a live drone and a live on-slope camera to ensure all angles were captured.
“We’ve really tried to build an event that’s for the athletes,” Seymour said.
The lesson? The Olympics doesn’t need a massive overhaul of its process in order to improve its snowboarding broadcasts.
Still, no one I spoke to failed to appreciate what the Olympics has done for professional snowboarding and the place it holds in the industry. There is room for improvement in how it showcases the sport, but it’s an important part of the competitive ecosystem.
“The Olympics play a big role in up-leveling a lot of aspects of the sport and broadcasts,” Steblay said. “It’ll always be what it is—it’ll never be as cool as something like Natural Selection, and it shouldn’t be. We need core broadcasts and events and we need big international ones for everyone. There’s a place for both. They don’t have to meet in the middle by any means.”