Shaun White. Michael Phelps. Bob Soven? We all recognize the first two names, but the last one might require a Google search. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
So, now you know he’s a junior professional wakeboarder for Nautique Boats, and if the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation has anything to say about it, Soven could become a household name just like those other Olympic athletes. Why? It was recently announced that the International Olympic Committee is considering wakeboarding as an addition to the 2020 Summer Olympics.
“Just as snowboard brought such a successful addition to the Winter Olympics, wakeboard certainly has the potential to add a totally new youth-focused lifestyle sport to the summer games in 2020,” the IWWF said in a news release.
The summer games are limited to 28 sports, and the IOC is expected to reach a final decision on wakeboarding’s bid for inclusion in the 2020 games at its 2013 meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The IOC also will determine the host city at that time. Eight sports are being considered for inclusion. The other six are baseball, karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, and wushu (a Chinese martial art).
The IWWF’s website mentions “environmentally friendly cable parks,” in its release as an item of interest to the Olympic committee, but naturally I think the riders should be pulled behind a boat—because the tricks are better. And if the IWWF or the IOC is concerned with emissions from internal combustion engines, they should talk to Correct Craft, which is building the all-electric Nautique E.
Even if an electric tow boat isn’t feasible, I still believe the Olympic wakeboarding should take place behind a boat. I can think of at least five manufacturers who would love to provide the boats used to pull world-class athletes on what would arguably be the biggest stage wakeboarding has ever seen.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re still talking 2013 until the decision is made, and 2020 until the sport would have a shot at Olympic gold. There’s still much work to be done.
“Wakeboard 2020 Vision will now complete the enormous preparation task ahead. All involved fully appreciate the need to satisfy the stringent requirements of the IOC program,” the federation said in a statement. “Following over 50 years of continuous development, the IWWF now believes that the time is right for wakeboard to take this final step of recognition.”
Wakeboarding at the Olympics. It’s about time.
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-- Brett Becker