SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - With their baggy pants, bandannas and unique vocabulary snowboarders may not be everyone’s idea of the archetypal Olympian, but IOC President Thomas Bach is impressed by the ‘cool guys’ of slopestyle and their gravity-defying tricks.
After meeting the three medalists from Saturday, American Sage Kotsenburg, who topped the podium, Staale Sandbech of Norway and third-placed Canadian Mark McMorris, Bach hailed the arrival of a new generation of athletes at the Sochi Games.
“It looks very spectacular,” Bach told a small group of news agency reporters. “I just met the three medalists and they are cool guys.
“They found it (competition) cool and now they wait for the party. When you win you have party.”
The event was included in the Sochi Olympics as the IOC is eager to revamp the sports program to attract new sponsors and a new generation of viewers and fans.
Asked about the sport, its athletes and their daredevil approach to the competition, Bach said it was a sign of changes in the Olympics.
“You know, that’s the new generation,” said the German lawyer.
As well as kudos for the Olympic newbies, Bach had special praise for a Games veteran after 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won Saturday’s biathlon sprint to claim a record-equaling 12th Winter Games medal.
The Norwegian became the oldest Winter Games gold medalist and matched compatriot Bjorn Daehlie’s medals mark.
Bjoerndalen now has seven golds to his name.
“He won?” Bach asked with surprise when reporters told him the Norwegian had once again claimed gold.
“Oh, chapeau (hats off to him),” said the German. “This is an amazing comeback.”
Bjoerndalen had not won an individual race for two years with many questioning why he was not retiring.
“Everybody thought it was over because he did not do so well. But with this comeback, it’s amazing.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford