Snowboarding in 2018 is big business. After spending the last few years growing in prestige, Big Air made its Olympic debut at the Pyeongchang Games. Some incredible tricks and displays were pulled off by the best talent from around the world, and Great Britain managed to win a shock bronze medal in the event to top off their haul of five medals, with veteran Billy Morgan (of 1800 Quad cork fame) finally getting some much-deserved luck.

The snowboarding thrills and spills from Pyeongchang were, in large part, made possible by the 2014 Games in Sochi, which managed to prove that snowboarding is the perfect event for the Winter Olympics.

Building a Legacy for 2018

After a disappointing showing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where only six medal events were included for the sport (a fact that perhaps helped to cause a rise in ski-cross popularity in Canada and led to some suggesting that the country is seeing a downward trend in the number of people taking up snowboarding), it was great to see Sochi boasting 10 events. There was also a move away from the general obsession with the standard halfpipe events, with the introduction of parallel slalom and slopestyle.

Above: A photo of someone snowboarding upside down. Source: Flickr

Interestingly, one of the biggest discussions around snowboarding at the Sochi Games focused on one of the biggest no-nos of the Olympics: advertising. Having expanded the events and with the sport being a part of the Olympic Games since 1998, it might have seemed likely that the IOC would have realized that snowboards tend to have a brand name on the bottom of the board which is going to be visible when tricks are being performed.

However, clearly this wasn’t such an obvious trend to the officials involved, leading to a few sticky situations (although perhaps with nothing quite so blatant as those who took part in freestyle skiing effectively giving free ad time to brands like Fischer, Atomica nd Voelkl as medalists held their skis up for the cameras happily bearing their logos!). Given the fact that skiing has been at the Winter Olympics since 1924 and ski jumping (where the logos on the base of skis can easily be seen) has been included in Winter Olympics since then, this is probably an issue that the IOC should have seen coming.

Lessons to Learn From

Some rather funny stories emerged from Pyeongchang, like this squirrel that diced with death, but there were also some fairly unfunny aspects to the Games, such as the focus on safety for those taking part. The 2014 event had seen the slopestyle course having to be altered due to a pre-Olympics crash for Torstein Horgmo that saw organizers rush to make amendments.

Unfortunately, at the latest Games, 4/5 of riders in the women’s slopestyle final crashed out due to winds that saw many suggest the final should have been canceled altogether.

Above: Torstein pics. Source: @Bluemaevor

Clearly, inspiration from all Olympics Games takes various forms, and we may see some from 2018 carry through to the next renewal. Whilst some may be seen as a fad, others will surely be carried forward – like Shaun White carrying on winning (he earned his third halfpipe gold medal this year). However, one thing that South Korea could definitely be inspired by in terms of what happened in Sochi was how to make a city build on the short-term success a Games can bring.

A City of Success

This legacy lies in the fact that, despite Sochi being almost uninhabitable in the middle of winter, and with nearly all tourists required to get a visa to head there, it is now seen as one of the top tourist destinations for anyone with a penchant for thrill-seeking. Airlines like BA fly there and numerous tour companies from across the world offer trips there. It has even merited inclusion in Betway’s list of the most popular casino destinations for 2018 following the opening of The Sochi Casino & Resort in 2017, which highlights the grand opportunities that can be presented by cities making a name for themselves with Olympic success.

It isn’t always a winning formula, which is why Sochi’s success seems all the more remarkable, and all the more important for South Korea to copy. Indeed, countries like Brazil, Greece, and even the UK all suffered losses on the money that was spent on hosting Olympic Games. In the UK, this is particularly interesting, as the country worked extensively with sponsors like Arcelor Mittal to build parts of the Olympic Park, yet questions are still being asked about the money spent on the venues constructed for the Olympics.

With Sochi not exactly known as a famous gambling venue before 2014, the city has shown how best to build on an Olympic legacy by picking a niche and exploiting everything good about becoming a household name for a short while. Those involved in the South Korea games will be hoping that Pyeongchang can take a leaf out of the Russians’ book by cashing in on what, from snowboarding’s perspective at least, has gone down as a wildly successful Games.

This article is a guest editorial and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or feelings of the Yobeat staff. Thanks for reading.