In the lofty grandeur of the Oslo city hall, under a vast Munch canvas that added gravity to the occasion, dignitaries of the city of Oslo, the World Snowboard Federation and the World Snowboard Tour passed on the legacy of the WSC to a delegation from Yabuli, the chosen future host resort of the 2016 World Snowboard Championships.
Dressed in blazer and tie the deputy major of Olso, Olav Elvestuen, thanked the organisers of the WSC for their contributions to the city’s winter sports scene and wished the new hosts well with their stewardship of the event.
Parrying, Reto Lamm (President of the TTR), Henning Anderson (CEO of TAC) and Marco Sampoli (World Snowboard Federation) thanked Olav and the city of Oslo for hosting both the World Champs of 2012 and several editions of The Arctic Challenge; the latest of which will culminate tomorrow in the immaculate pipe of Oslo’s Winter Park.
They also made their case as to why Yabuli was chosen as the future site of ‘free’ snowboarding’s premiere event. This can be summed up in the single sentence from Reto Lamm: “It is a very high standard ski resort with a very high mountain”: with a rather prolonged full stop delivered by Marco Sampoli: “It is a very exciting and adventurous thing to organize the next World Championships in a resort where snowboarding is still a young sport”.
Popular conviction has it that snowboarding arrived in China some 11 years ago.
Yabuli, located in the North Eastern province of Heilongjiang, is China’s largest and highest resort and is reputed to be the epicentre of the countries blooming winter sports industry.
They already boast a snowpark and there is little doubt that they will be able to construct fine playing fields for the event, which will include the disciplines of pipe, big air and slopestyle.
“It is prestige for them and they will ask for help and get it from the best” said Henning Anderson, the driving force behind both the Arctic Challenge and The World Snowboard Championships. “But to create that enthusiasm, the feel, the expectation of a fantastic event coming up that will be their challenge” he added.
China already proved that they can produce great ‘athletic’ snowboarders for the 2010 Olympics but can the organizers of the Yabuli WSC cultivate the ‘soul’ and lifestyle of snowboarding to a perceived new intake of Chinese riders?
“That will be their task” said Reto Lamm, when asked the question. “Because the market is so big, it will be like Japan in the 90s. It was really hard to implement snowboarding there because they had the same insight as ‘the Chinese’ but Japan developed into a huge market” – with very deep roots in the soul of the sport, we might add. If Japan’s Kazu is to be taken as a product of that development then the future for Chinese snowboarding is bright.
This sentiment was echoed by Henning Anderson who believes that the Yabuli WSC could be the catalyst to a mass movement in snowboarding on a grass roots level within the youth of China. If this is true, then the current woes of the snowboard market may be resolved by the 2016 Yabuli World Snowboard Championships.