Subjekt: Boycott
Terje Haakonsen Says Olympics No Good for Snowboarding

World Champion
Terje Haakonsen
(photo: Hans Prosl)
Thursday, January 8, 1998

While he's alluded to it for quite some time, it has now been reported that World Champion Terje Haakonsen is boycotting the Nagano Winter Olympics. While snowboarding will make its debut in Nagano as a full medal sport, Haakonsen will sit it out maintaining snowboarding is a square peg that won't fit into a colored ring.

Haakonsen told his Norway Olympic team coach Tuesday that he did not want a spot on the team. Haakonsen, 23, had previously told the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the event organizers, are far removed from understanding the sport or its athletes and said "the big-wigs ride in limousines and stay in fancy hotels while the athletes live in barracks in the woods."

"He's managed his career very well so far. We have to believe Terje is doing the right thing..."— Jake Burton

Burton Snowboards, which sponsors Haakonsen, supports his decision. "We've said from the beginning that we would support every rider's personal decision," David Schriber, marketing director for Burton said. "No rider I've talked to is 100% comfortable with the Olympic situation," he said.

Terje Haakonsen
(photo: Hans Prosl)

Haakonsen competes on the International Snowboard Federation (ISF) tour. The ISF has been the snowboard specific governing body that lost the chance to oversee the sport in the Olympics when the IOC appointed the older, until then ski-specific, International Ski Federation (FIS). FIS points are needed to win a spot in the Olympic program and Haakonsen has thus far refused to participate in FIS events.

Many riders have deemed FIS rules inappropriate for snowboarding. As long as FIS and the IOC officially consider snowboarding to be a discipline of skiing, there will be dissention among the athletes. Among the unfavorable aspects of Olympic snowboarding is the "team" set-up, as snowboarders consider it an individual sport. The riders also will be required to wear team uniforms that are not reflective of their sponsors.

Haakonsen, a three time ISF halfpipe champion, may be the best halfpipe rider in the world and would have been a contender for gold. Haakonsen has been a pro-rider since 1989 and starred in the movie Subjekt: Haakonsen

Sarah Love, Mountain Zone Staff

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