Surfing has "so much potential" as an Olympic sport following its addition to the Tokyo 2020 programme, multiple world snowboard cross champion Lindsey Jacobellis has claimed at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Championships here.
The 33-year-old is more accustomed to snowy mountains than sandy beaches, but the five-time world snowboard cross champion is working for the ISA as their “sideline reporter”, interviewing the surfers after they finish their heats.
Jacobellis told insidethegames that surfing is “opening up the eyes to the world” to gender equality, while also speaking of the similarities between snowboarding and surfing.
“There’s so much potential for surfing and especially on the ladies side,” the American said.
“The whole thing of it that they’re [men and women] out the water at the same time, they’re surfing the same waves and there’s not a lot of sports that has that equal opportunity for men and ladies.
“Our sport [snowboarding] we ride the same course, which is really cool, we get paid the same now.
“Women in surfing get paid the same as the men on tour so it’s opening up the eye to the world on gender equality, the growth of women in any sport and it’s really cool that the ISA is getting behind this and helping nourish these future athletes.”
Explaining how she had got involved with the ISA, Jacobellis said she had got to know the surfers after regularly visiting California in the summer.
“When I was 25 I decided that I’d start coming out to California in the summer time and I had some friends that I’d come and stay for long periods of time to visit and then I started renting places here and there for a month or so, and just making sure I’d get some time off [from snowboarding]," Jacobellis, who famously lost her chance of the snowboard cross gold medal at Turin 2006 after showboating, said.
“Because as I am still competing full time, it is really nice to have a guaranteed summer, and California can give you that, you know, pretty much over 100 to 300 days out of the year.
“So instead of chasing that cold weather I can come now and guarantee that I’m going to have some fun in the sun, maybe there’ll be some waves and I’ve been doing that now for the last eight summers, really been getting into surfing a lot more.
The Olympic silver medallist from the Turin Games in 2006 said she saw “a lot of similarities” between her sport and surfing.
“I see a lot of similarities in snowboarding and surfing, just the feel, the board sport, going from edge to edge but, surfing is a whole different animal,” she said.
“These guys make it look so easy.
“I was out there earlier today and it’s not as easy as they’re making it look.
“I always feel like, I’ll try that but it’s not that simple.”
Asked how she felt surfing would work as a spectator sport at the Olympics, Jacobellis said it would provide a lot of excitement.
“I mean who wouldn’t want to come and sit on the beach?" She said.
“That’s a really, really nice enjoyable feat right there.
“But then you get to watch some excitement and just like in any sport, is it going to happen, are they going to finish that last manoeuvre, are they just going to detonate in the shore break?
"There is a lot of excitement, those tense moments, you see those moments of disappointment, you see those moments of triumph.
"Like any sport it has all the ups and downs and it’s definitely going to be exciting.”
The World Junior Championships here began on October 27 and will finish on Sunday (November 4).