Come this February, free-skiing's addition to the Olympic lineup in Sochi, Russia, will bring to the mainstream a sport that has until now existed in the shadows at the sides of the slopes. That means there will be Olympic gold medals at stake in halfpipe and slopestyle, and twin-tipped skis will finally become recognized tools of bona fide Olympians. If there's one free-skier who will capture the hearts and minds of American audiences, it's almost certainly the athlete who put halfpipe skiing on the map in the first place: Simon Dumont.
An X Games mainstay in the halfpipe since he was 15 years old, Dumont is now a 27-year-old veteran with a bucketful of X Games golds to his name. He's largely seen as the godfather of the sport, and was instrumental in the push to get free-skiing and the half pipe into the Olympics. Now, he's in New Zealand recovering from a series of brutal injuries to his ankle and wrists on an accelerated timeline in order to get healthy in time for the Olympics.
"I'm just going to go one step at a time," Dumont says of his chances of competing in the Olympics. "I'm confident, and I've always performed when I've needed to perform. This is the one event that I haven't podiumed in my life, and it's something I want bad." To get us warmed up for the coming Olympic games, Dumont gave 'Men's Journal' a crash course in the art and intricacies of the halfpipe, as well as an insider's view into what to expect at Sochi. Here's what he had to say.
Reception depends on announcers.
For most viewers, the Olympics broadcast will be their first exposure to free-skiing. That makes Dumont nervous. "It's going to be really tough for people who don't understand the sport," he says. As such, Dumont believes that free-skiing's reception very much depends on who ends up in the broadcast booth. With a knowledgeable announcer, viewers will be keyed in to not only the rules, but also the difficulty of what they're watching. In the wrong hands, viewers may miss out or worse, be turned off (like what happened in the early days of soccer coverage, among others). "I just think it's very key for free-skiing and our community, because we want our sport to be conveyed with a certain message," he says.
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