A fantastic sport for winter competions like the X Games and Olympics
Four racers start. Between one to four racers finish. The excitement of Boardercross and Ski Cross doesn’t let up until the finish line. Boardercross hit the Olympics in 2006, Ski cross in 2010 adding new life and competitiveness to the games.
Fast wax, quick minds and a lot of courage are needed to compete in this high speed sport. Zoe Gillings was the great British hope in Boardercross at the last Olympics. Placing 8th over all after an injury in the semi finals. She had a tough time getting to the Olympics after injuries and the financial melt down of Snow Sports GB. But this didn’t affect her focus on the day and focus is what each competitor needs.
The Olympic course in Vancouver was built primarily for the Boardercross and the shape of the jumps proved a challenge for the skiers in their hard boots. This led to several skiers getting far too much air and crashing spectacularly. The skiers do however have an advantage with their poles. Allowing them to recover from heavy braking and stumbles a lot quicker than their snowboard counterparts. But the ski poles are a mixed blessing being an extra hazard to avoided when overtaking or simply trying to stay on course.
Ski Cross was just as exciting as Boardercross and it is surprising how aggressively the skiers overtake considering the speeds they are going. This may be down to the extra stability of skis around corners giving them more confidence to get closer. They often banged into the back of opponents skis when striving to overtake. Several skiers have come across from alpine skiing so they are also very competitive in keeping their line and reaching the finish line frst.
The skis do not pop off easily, so as with the snowboarders a crash didn’t always eliminate someone from qualifying. A great move was pulled off in the quarter final as a skier caught the back of a crash spun a 360 and still came very close to finishing 2nd. The length of the skis cause an extra hazard in a crash and skiers can’t wipe out as neatly as snowboarders. But they are just as determined as the snowboarders top finish the race.
Both disciplines are incredible to watch and the athletes need a broad range of skills. They may qualify with a good time but the real test comes when racing with three others. Constantly adapting their race line and avoiding collision whilst understanding their opponents techniques and strategies. The snowboarders have an extra challenge with this as the opponent will be hard to see if overtaking on their blind side. Snowboarders also have an extra challenge keeping an edge through fast and icy corners. Watching the riders skilful navigation of the course as they adapt to the unexpected. Going as fast as they can over tough obstacles with the competitors close by brings a unique excitement to these sports. Boarder Cross and Ski Cross make a welcome addition to the Olympics and will continue to grow in popularity.