Snow Bored Superpipe

Yesterday morning, the women’s snowboard superpipe qualifiers were held here at Winter X. After the contest, a press release went out announcing the scores, and that the top 10 women had advanced to finals. Bleiler qualified first, followed by last year’s winner Torah Bright, Kelly Clark …

Then, about an hour later, a second release went out with a correction: Only 6 women would advance to finals, and in turn, make the television broadcast on Friday night. Six women. Looking at the scores, a “natural break” happened in two spots: at 8th place, and 12th place. Which means some very talented, deserving women will not make the final and will remain unknown to this mainstream market.

The rumored reason for the cut (10 women made finals last year; 10 men make finals this year) is that the X Games wanted to give each woman three runs in the final, instead of two. It’s a fairly standard snowboard contest format, and is a positive step forward in the progression of this event. But it shouldn’t be a trade-off: more runs for fewer girls. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of this “live” format. There’s just not enough time to develop new names or new story lines.

But that’s what makes mainstream sports exciting—knowing that, each year, a rookie class is coming through with the potential to upset the major stars. Gretchen Bleiler becomes a much more interesting story if those watching know that 16-year-old Ellery Hollingsworth is capable of landing a backside 900 at will, and that youngsters Claire Bidez and Jamie Anderson have the ability, and the desire, to knock her off the podium. What good competition doesn’t have a dark horse?

Instead, viewers will be served the same women they’ve been watching for years, without knowing there are other women out there worth caring about. The organizers believe this format makes the contest more “elite.”

Sure. But it also makes it something else: boring.

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