Snowboarding Set to be FIS-ted for Olympic Qualification? Again?

Tom Copsey Tom Copsey
An artist's impression of the Sochi Olympics snowboard Slopestyle.

With Slopestyle now included for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, there had been talk of a Brave New World of dialogue between the TTR, FIS and IOC, the establishment of a Task Force to tackle the issues both sides have. While this certainly happened, it seems the FIS and IOC listened patiently while inside going “Yeah yeah yeah, whatever,” and then doing things their own way. It shouldn’t come as much surprise really…

News came yesterday that the IOC had approved the qualification process for snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle (and other ‘ski’ disciplines) for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Despite a Task Force being established to facilitate dialogue between interested parties (TTR, FIS, atheletes, judges etc) who were to submit their recommendations in October, the FIS, it appears, have instead decided to fast track the decision, with the end result being the qualification process appears near identical to that for Vancouver 2010. This great piece on the situation by ESPN’s Melissa Larsen has all the details, but in a nutshel this quote sums things up pretty well:

This indicates the FIS executive committee chose to disregard the work of a joint task force that was established in May by members of FIS Snowboarding, FIS national associations, athletes, judges and the TTR to address the Olympic qualification processes for snowboarding.

So it looks like once again, if the riders want to jump through the hoops, they’ll really have to jump through the hoops to earn their spots… adding considerably to an already hectic contest season and almost certainly to the detriment of some events that could actually be said to have snowboarding’s best interests at heart.

While we can certainly understand, for example, the IOC’s issues with the fact that some of the major TTR events are in essence Invite Only, (and associated with brands who aren’t Coke, McDonalds et al who line the OG pockets, perhaps?), this would have to our mind fallen in the ‘issues to discuss and resolve’. Alas, no. As a result it’s likely riders who’ll feel the sharp end of the decision as they will have to be hitting up FIS slopestyle comps – an area of which they have precious little expertise compared to the TTR-sanctioned events who’ve been running such gigs for nigh on a decade.

The TTR are obviously bummed:

The TTR is greatly disappointed by the recent decisions made by the FIS in their meetings in Korea regarding field size, quotas and the qualification process for Sochi 2014. These decisions were made on an accelerated timeline without taking into account the interests of athletes and the sport of snowboarding. Despite TTR making every effort to work with the FIS both within the Freestyle Snowboard Task Force and independently, the FIS remains unwilling to accept any input regarding the Olympics. TTR however, remains open to future discussion with the FIS and will continue to work toward having an impact on the 2014 Olympics.

As the ESPN article hints at, there does seem to be the outside chance they won’t completely rule out more discussion and fine-tuning – perhaps finding a way to permit the ‘Open’ TTR events to count. We are not holding our breath.

Some wag got on the Der Untergang bandwagon, which it is fair to say sums up most snowboarders’ feelings about the situation…

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