Snowboarders Aim to Take the Power Back with Olympic Charter

Tom Copsey Tom Copsey
Kjersti Buaas, Terje and Torstein have all inked the Snowboarding 180 Olympic Charter. Photos: Eleonora Raggi and Olav Stubberud.

The ‘Snowboarding 180 Olympic Charter’, signed by the finest slopestyle riders on the planet at The Arctic Challenge, aims to influence the International Olympic Committee’s decision as to who’ll be in control should the IOC introduce slopestyle in the Olympic Games.

In April this year the IOC will vote on whether slopestyle will be introduced to the Olympic program. Whatever your opinions of the five-ringed circus, one thing is abundantly clear: the riders want to go. Of course, it’s not as simple as that. For reasons known best to themselves, when snowboarding first became an Olympic sport the IOC placed a ski federation, the FIS, in charge of Olympic qualification. Of course, the best riders in the sport have always wanted little to do with an organisation whose agenda does not fully match their own, or for that matter snowboarding’s (look at an FIS pipe event’s results in a non-Olympic season and there won’t be many names you recognise), but nevertheless if they want to represent at the Olympics, they have no choice but to swallow the bitter pill and do the FIS pipe qualifiers.

Now, with slopestyle being mooted as a possible addition to the Olympic snowboarding program, the riders are banding together to say “enough, already.” Though they currently do not hold a world slopestyle tour, the FIS has announced that, should slopestyle get the nod for the next Games, they will establish one. To the initiated, this is madness as there are already established slopestyle tours that attract the creme de la creme of snowboarding’s talent and are accustomed to laying on progressive, world class events. Alongside the pipe qualifiers this would mean an even bigger clash of event dates and riders’ schedules get even more complicated. Impossible, even.

There’s little doubt that the pipe finals in Vancouver last year was perhaps the highlight of that Olympics. It certainly drew TV viewers, over 30 million in the US alone, which is the currency the IOC trade in for their enormous sponsorship deals. It could be argued, then, that the Olympics needs snowboarding more than snowboarding needs the Olympics, but the 180 Charter is quick to point out that snowboarders recognise the Games as the potential ‘pinnacle’ of the sport. But they want it on their terms. As the release states, “They want their voices to be heard in an open and democratic decision making system, and they want a new order for qualifying to the Olympics.”

In black and white, this is what they’re calling for: “The snowboarders are therefore asking the IOC to make a 180 turn: Conflicting dates will hurt the progression of the sport. They want a common Olympic ranking for all world-class events, not only for FIS-events.”

Without the riders, there is no contest. Todd Richards nailed it back in 1998 when he said of Terje’s boycott: “Clearly, any victory without the world’s best snowboarder in attendance is going to be a hollow one.” What remains to be seen is if this turns out to be nothing more than scribbles on a piece of paper, or a constitution to which all snowboarders hold themselves to.

The Snowboarding 180 Olympic Charter is outlined below:

Snowboarding should be run by snowboarders.

- We recognize the Olympics as a potential pinnacle event of snowboarding, but only if our voices are heard.

- All snowboard events and organizations throughout the world must listen to the driving force of our sport: the athletes.

- Snowboarders want a transparent and democratic process in all decision-making systems that have an effect on our daily lives and occupation.

- Snowboarding will never reach its full potential with conflicting dates of major snowboarding events.

- We do not want a new world tour for slopestyle qualifications.

- We want an Olympic ranking to reduce the date conflicts of major events.

- We believe the International Olympic Committee has a responsibility to listen to our voices and make way for the unleashing of snowboarding’s true potential.

- We want all powers to start a dialogue to find a solution for the better good of the sport.

- Preserving the status quo in snowboarding is not an option.

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