The Olympic motto is “citius, altius, fortius,” and no winter sport has aimed to to go “faster, higher and stronger” than snowboarding.
Indeed, one must look no farther than snowboarding’s debut at the 1998 Nagano Games to see how quickly the sport has changed. Compared to Shaun White’s gold medal run in 2018, Gian Simmen’s winning bid in ’98 seems like it should have been shot in black and white.
Watch them side-by-side here and have a good laugh:
As you can probably tell, the biggest difference is the size of the pipe. Snowboarding’s first appearance at the games used what was basically a skateboard halfpipe that stood 11.5 feet tall. Less height means less air, which means Simmen’s history-making run looks like a total snooze 20 years later.
Desiring a competition that emphasized high-flying tricks, the Olympics went to a 22-foot superpipe by the time the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City rolled around. Not only is the superpipe twice as high, it’s about 200 feet longer and 33 percent wider. It all adds up to more opportunities for snowboarders to attempt faster, higher and stronger tricks.
It’s also necessitated another change you might have noticed between the two runs.
That’s right, helmets.
More Olympic coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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• Radio host fired for ugly comment about underage Olympian
• Olympic snowboarder breaks neck on scary fall
• Jamaica’s coach quits, may leave team without sled
• Attorney for Shaun White’s accuser fires back