Telemark Olympic dreams: No thanks

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Over the summer the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have taken the telemark community on a roller coaster.

They first took the decision to evaluate the integration of telemark as a discipline for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

And by the end of the summer, the decision not to include telemark in the 2022 Olympics came as a heart-breaking decision for the whole telemark community.

The process that led to the decision had everyone hoped for a different outcome.

I have to say that I’m very sad for all the telemark racers, the coaches, the volunteers. I know these people work hard and this would have changed their lives. Some money to pay the coaches, some money to help the athletes travel and train. And it would have helped grow local telemark club for a new generation.

By accepting the oldest snow sport, the IOC would have helped our sport’s visibility and recognition like nothing else. A boost we really need.

Or do we?

I am against the participation of telemark in the Olympics.

I have to go against the crowd on this one even if:

  • The sport is not growing in North America, where most skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers are. (UPDATE: I have been told that it is now growing again, so I’ll focus on the “marginal” snowsport )
  • Olympics is the greatest platform to develop a sport. It’s the biggest sport’s brand, it’s the biggest show.

So you have a marginal sport that is offered the biggest advertisement there is.

Why on earth would one pass on this?

Rene, are you crazy? Do you really love your sport?

Here are my arguments:

Money, Influence, Environment.

Money

IOC is a major corporation worth billions. That’s not bad in itself, but it comes at a price. This gigantic corporation sells the TV right for billions worldwide. With money comes power, corruption and people who’s goal is not related to the sports anymore.

The athletes in Olympics sports have no money from the games. Unlike pro football, hockey our major sports, there is no sharing. Why would we want to have our poor telemark athlete staying poor and being exploited by the billion dollar industry.

It not all bad has it would probably help pay coaches, trainers, training and so on. Can we find another way to finance all this?

Who pays? Sochi cost 50G, many traditional winter cities are not interested in investing in the Olympics anymore. The return is negligible, the massive infrastructure will serve for two weeks, and then will be abandoned. It’s still a part of the Olympic problem.

For the IOC, Athlete are the product they sell. And the good news is that it’s cheap labour.

Influence

Politics. It’s the major problem of the IOC. Once you are in, the IOC have a lot of say in the sport. They will make changes in the administration, events schedule, and even the sport’s rules if it suits their need.

Corruption, cheaters, drugs.

Looks like doping is a major problem at the world stage. From the East German era where the secret service drugs the athlete without them knowing to the recent Russian state organize doping as a system. The Russian federations got banished and then reinstated for shady reasons, this is part of the Games. Do we need that in our sport?

The show must go on. The IOC is nothing like the values it was founded on.

Environment

And finally, this is the most important reason I’m strongly opposed to the Olympics as an event. It just doesn’t make any sense to organize major events like this anymore. The impact of building the infrastructure, the impact of hundred thousand tourists in one place at the same time has been a problem for a long time.

Now, it’s gone to a whole new level with localization problems. 2014 Sochi Olympics were held in a humid sub tropical climate, Beijing the choice for the 2022 Olympics is just ridiculous. Beijing is not a mountainous city, so the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will be held on the edge of the Gobi desert. No snow there. At all.

Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has faced. We, as a community, cannot choose to ignore this for the sake of our sport.

The technique is a sport. I love the technique, not the sport.

A lot of sport in the Olympics are not more popular because they are at the Olympics. It’s a big show. What would have been our place in all that

I have chosen telemark because it was different, there is no drug problem in our race, there is no coaching scandals with our youth, there is none of the problems of a major sport where money and power are at stakes. Just people enjoying the sport

I’ve devoted my life to the turn, the feeling. Surely we don’t need major exposure to convince people to try. After that, the community need to self support.

I don’t love the sport. I don’t love it blindly. The more the better is not my motto.

In the end, we do need a strong telemark tribe.

We do need people to be exited about our sport, the culture, the history.

I just feel like the Olympics are done. This is not the way.

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  • KRad

    I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment Rene-Martin. The IOC is a large pocket full of corruption and the Olympics (the business) is a sham. I truly feel sorry for most of the athletes as they are there for the right reasons. I do acknowledge that some athletes do willingly use performance enhancing drugs, but the business side of Olympics is or has gone mad. Sport is the last thing on their minds. Power, Money, Control, these are what the IOC (business) is about.