Waiting on the FIS
The TTR is currently awaiting a decision on a proposal for a joint FIS/TTR Olympic qualification system submitted to FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis, FIS Marketing Director Marcel Looze and members of the FIS snowboard staff on October 7.
The system in place now only allows FIS World Cup points to be used for qualification for the 2014 Winter Games. The proposed joint system would allow points earned in the top four TTR events and top four FIS World Cup events to be used for qualification instead.
"A decision is expected within the next two weeks," says TTR spokesman Matt Johnson. "It's in FIS' hands right now."
The proposal was developed in partnership with members of FIS, snowboard nation members, athletes and coaches -- otherwise known as the Freestyle Snowboard Task Force -- with the intention of being submitted for consideration during the FIS fall meetings in Zurich, Switzerland. This proposal was temporarily derailed when a FIS-sponsored qualification system that did not take the work of the Task Force into account was submitted to, and approved by, the IOC in August.
Following the outcry over this turn of events, the IOC summoned members of FIS and the TTR in September to a meeting to discuss the issues at hand. FIS then agreed to review the Task Force proposal respond to it by the beginning of November.
While they await the FIS decision, TTR has created a website called snowboardersunite.com for interested members of the snowboarding community to find out more about the joint proposal, and show support for it.
The TTR World Snowboard Tour is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary this season with a combined $1.15 million prize purse for all its 6Star events -- including the inaugural World Snowboarding Championships in Oslo, Norway in February and the 30th anniversary of the Burton U.S. Open in Vermont in March.
The U.S. Open is one of the contests that the TTR believes falls within the parameters set by FIS that a competition needs to be "open" to all riders (ie, not be limited by an invite) in order for it to be a truly fair way to qualify athletes for the Olympics.
The TTR 5Star event series, meanwhile, has already begun, with the Billabong Ante Up at Whistler Blackcomb in July and the Burton New Zealand Open in August, and resumes with the Grand Prix (Dec. 7-10) at Copper Mountain, Colo. This year marks the first time athletes competing in the Grand Prix series will be eligible for both FIS and TTR points.
"In the past, when an event was applying for TTR accreditation, it was one of our regulations that that they couldn't also be an FIS event," says Johnson. Lifting this regulation "is more of a symbolic step than anything else, but ... I think it's going to open up an opportunity for a much more diverse, international group of riders who are going after after TTR points. Grand Prix events have tended to be dominated by North American riders in the past. It could also mean we'll be seeing some more North American riders getting into the TTR points race."
TTR 6Star season begins in China on Dec. 3 with the Shaun White Oakley Air & Style Beijing. For those wanting to keep track, check out the new TTR Snowboarding App for the iPhone and iPad, which will provide direct access to photos, videos, and live ranking lists from the tour, as well as a "Who's in?" feature following the qualification process leading up to the World Snowboarding Championships.