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Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: June 4, 3:13 PM ET
Big Air in the Olympics?

By Megan Michelson
ESPN.com

Event organizers for the Winter Olympic Games recently discussed the possibility of adding Ski and Snowboard Big Air to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. If added, Big Air would follow Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle and Ski Halfpipe, which will make their Olympic debuts at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

The discussions took place at the annual autumn meetings of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Council, held Oct. 2 - 6 in Zurich, Switzerland, during a meeting with the Freeskiing Advisory Committee.

"These are conversations being had at a committee level, but there is a push for Big Air in the South Korea Olympics," Michael Spencer, a co-founder of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) who was in attendance at the meetings, told ESPN.com.

A source at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association confirmed that a brief discussion also took place on the snowboard side, but there was nothing concrete to report.

According to Spencer, nobody in the room at the Freeskiing Committee meeting had spoken with athletes to get their perspective on adding Ski Big Air to the Olympic program, so Spencer suggested they postpone the discussion until athletes were involved.

"It's not to say we're not going to pursue it, but we're going to table it and get the athletes' perspective. From an AFP standpoint, that's what we're here to do," Spencer said. "If athletes like the idea, what kind of formatting would they want? There are a lot of moving parts that would need to be figured out."

So, what do the athletes think about adding Big Air to the Olympics? "I think Big Air in the Olympics could be a good thing for the sport," says Ski Big Air and Slopestyle competitor Sammy Carlson. "Hopefully including freeskiing in the Olympics will turn more people onto the sport and create more opportunities for everyone involved. That said, we have to remember that competition is only one small part of the sport and I really hope freeskiing doesn't lose its roots just for a competition that happens every four years."

Halldor Helgason during Snowboard Big Air at Winter X Games Aspen.

Other subjects discussed at the FIS meetings in Zurich included judging and course building for the upcoming World Cups and 2014 Olympic Games.

Although there was a brief discussion of using crossover judges for freeskiing and snowboarding, that idea was eventually nixed. In Zurich, the FIS Freestyle Committee confirmed the freeskiing Olympic Judging panel that will be used in Sochi, a collection of names of experienced judges who will all be certified by the AFP's judge's training process. The names of the judges for Sochi will likely be released in November, pending final approval from FIS.

"I have seen the list of judges and the fact that it's a full AFP judging panel, we couldn't ask for anything better," Spencer said. "These are all international judges that have gone through our program. There's not a judge on there that hasn't judged these athletes multiple times. This is great news for the athletes."

The snowboard judging panel will also likely be released in November.

The AFP will also be working to create a list of course builders who are verified to construct slopestyle and halfpipe courses for high-level events, a process that was previously set in place in ski and boardercross. "That way when a country wants to host a World Cup halfpipe contest, for example, there's a list of global course builders that are qualified to do that," added Spencer.

The next FIS Council meeting will take place next spring in Croatia.