Is Olympic Slopestyle Too Risky?

IOC official calls out an injury-plagued slopestyle debut in Sochi.
Airing it out in the 2014 Winter Olympics Slopestyle in Sochi, Russia.

Is slopestyle too dangerous? Last week a high-ranking member of the IOC said it may be.

Lars Engbretson, IOC’s head of medical sciences points at the discipline's Olympic debut in Sochi. As reported by the Associated Press, Engbretson said, “The injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics.”

Although Engbretson did not provide the number or rate of injuries, there were frequent and notable injuries in the ski slopestyle and halfpipe events, including those that stymied U.S. athletes Lyman Currier and Maggie Voisin.

Despite Engbretson’s call to examine the future of slopestyle in the Olympics, the decision to add or drop a discipline is ultimately up to the IOC Executive Board. Engbretson isn’t a member of that board.

We asked pro skier Grete Eliassen for her take on the safety of Olympic slopestyle events.

“The only way to [avoid] injury is to make the jumps more safe—build them correctly. And you don’t have to build them that big to have a good show," she says. “I think they went way out of proportion when building that course.”

In the same AP interview, Engbretson said he had a “gut feeling” that the slopestyle events would get one more chance in 2018.

(Jake Koltun is a college student at CU, and a Skiing Magazine intern.)