The ever-changing focus of this community’s attention is hard to pin down.
From Gapers to Goepper, Wu-tang to Wallisch, opinions shift on a daily basis but equally there are many who stick firmly to their beliefs and prejudices. The members of this community seek to establish and embolden their own sense of identity by shaping the identity of what skiing means to us. Thus Newschoolers threads are routinely peppered with boisterous claims about what ‘freeskiing’ is, what the ski community is, how it used to be, and especially how it should be.
As an Englishman with the good fortune of being in London during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I can say with utter certainty that it was the happiest I have ever seen my grumpy little country. For the first time in my living memory people were talking to one another on the tube, strangers smiled at you and the general atmosphere was jubilant. Despite all the worries and problems in the build-up, excitement took its grip and everyone was joined in support for what the Olympics actually represent besides all the corporate advertising, murky politics and cynical naysayers. Camaraderie, international cooperation and fun.
Our sport is an individual one but one in which you arguably share a deeper connection with fellow participants than in any other. We ski with our friends or with strangers. Everyone wants everyone to succeed, we all benefit from others’ progression and the hysteria which ensues when we witness wild innovation is something no other sport can imitate.
Whilst the Olympics will undoubtedly bring a plethora of new opportunities, money and exposure to our sport, ultimately for you and I skiing will stay the same and most of us as skiers will remain motivated by the same core drives; slow technical progression, dogged obsession, and above all, enjoyment.
The athletes who have made it to Sochi have worked extremely hard and regardless of who is missing from which team or how awful the outerwear looks, it will take its place in the history of our sport. Whilst events heralding change in this way are inevitably divisive by nature, it is astounding how single-mindedly some people fail to see something good staring them in the face. A cynic is someone who when smelling flowers, looks around for a coffin. For all those sniffing at the Olympics and criticising the athletes, fair play. Do your thing, spite yourselves and don’t watch them.
If Henrik’s X-games qualifiers are anything to go by then I'm sure we will see some game-changers in the coming weeks. I for one will certainly be watching.