Accessible, cool, marketable - the coming Games slogan

Published February 28, 2010

| Reuters

By Kevin Fylan

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - If one moment from these Olympics defined the ideals of Faster, Higher, Stronger it was a shock-haired snowboarder channeling adrenaline and sheer joy to push himself and his sport to the extreme.

Shaun White had already made sure of halfpipe gold but, just because he could, he pulled out a double-flip, 3.5-rotation jump with blind landing that left him as giddy as anyone in an awe-struck Cypress Mountain crowd.

Snowboarding, which only became an Olympic sport in 1998, and freestyle skiing, which has held medal status since 1992, are now in the Winter Games mainstream.

That was clear from an Opening Ceremony that began with film of a snowboarder's leap off a cliff and the spotlight has kept returning to sports that have provided a hair-raising spectacle.

The first moments of real excitement at these Games came in the freestyle skiing moguls, played out to rock music and wild cheers.

Jennifer Heil just missed a first home Canadian gold in the back-flipping, helicopter-twisting discipline before Alex Bilodeau did earn national hero status 24 hours later.

The following day, Seth Wescott launched one of the great Olympic comebacks to repeat his 2006 success in snowboard cross and more Canadian gold from Maelle Ricker ensured the excitement continued in the women's event the following day.


That set the stage for White's moment of genius and 24 hours later it was Torah Bright of Australia showing the same nerve and sense of adventure, picking herself up from a fall to go from last to first with a fearless second halfpipe run.

The athletes have delighted too with their shoulder-shrugging style and speech you sometimes feel should come with a "Teach Yourself Snowspeak" phrasebook.

"I was shredding pow (powder), dropping cliffs, chasing the boys my whole life," said Ashleigh McIvor following her victory in the inaugural women's ski cross, before neatly summing up the appeal of the sport.

"Ski cross is the newest form of ski racing but in essence it's been around forever -- racing your friends from the top of the mountain to the bottom.

"The IOC is interested in keeping up with the next generation and keeping the Olympics cool and ski cross is a great way to do that."

Accessible, cool, and highly marketable to kids -- come to think if it, that itself might have the makings of a modern day Olympic slogan.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles)

(Editing by Ed Osmond)