[With both the X Games and the US Grand Prixs both set to join the World Snowboard Tour party, could we see this hotel-trashing scooter pimp add a third tour crown to his bulging trophy cabinet?]
Big news has shook snowboarding's competitive landscape today with the announcement that not only has the X Games (both the US and Euro edition) signed up to be a 6-Star World Snowboard Tour event, the US Grand Prix stops have too, which will be both 5-Star WST events and FIS World Cups. Read on...
There's other TTR/WST news announced - the return of The Arctic Challenge, a women's contest added to the Red Bull Nanshan Open, and expansion into new markets - but without a doubt the most groundbreaking is that for the first time, the Winter X Games have come onboard to nestle under the WST umbrella and that the TTR and FIS seem to have found some kind of common ground for once as the US Grand Prix stops will not just award riders with the necessary FIS points in the runup to an Olympic season, they'll also count towards the WST ranking.
This year's World Snowboard Tour will be more exciting than ever. - Reto Lamm. TTR President.
As arguably the highest profile yearly snowboard contest around, we're aware that the bods at the TTR have been very keen to bring both the Aspen and Tignes X Games events into their tour system for a long while but, until this year and despite positive noises, an agreement was not forthcoming. Now that's been resolved – which you must think strengthens the TTR's position considerably – with the 2013 X Games Aspen event being listed as a 6-Star event on the 2012-13 World Snowboard Tour, whereas the X Games Tignes will also be a 6-Star event, but the points will count for the 2013-14 contest season.
This test comes as a result of talks between TTR Pro Snowboarding and FIS on how to improve the situation for riders during the Olympic qualification seasons.
We must confess eyebrows were raised and the word "interesing" muttered at the revealing of the next bit of news: the integration of the Sprint US Snowboarding Grand Prix events. This means that for the first time the TTR and FIS appear to be pulling in a similar direction as riders won't have to make a potentially tough choice about which event to enter if they're trying to place well on the World Snowboard Tour, but also trying to secure and Olympic spot. "This test comes as a result of talks between TTR Pro Snowboarding and FIS on how to improve the situation for riders during the Olympic qualification seasons," reads the communique. "This follows TTR Pro Snowboarding´s push to improve the Olympic qualification process for the good of the sport and the riders. The test is signifying an important step in trying to alleviate the rider’s increasingly busy schedules and to minimize calendar issues."
The President of TTR Pro Snowboarding, Reto Lamm, had this to say: “This year's World Snowboard Tour will be more exciting than ever. We are proud to welcome the X Games to the World Snowboard Tour. This move is in full alignment with TTR Pro Snowboarding's push towards a unified environment in competitive snowboarding. As we continue to grow and unify the sport, we open more opportunities to riders, allowing them to gain World Snowboard Tour points at the world’s most respected competitions. The inclusion of X Games and the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prixs into the World Snowboard Tour will strengthen our global snowboard community and open the doors for more athletes to take part."
For competitive snowboarding to have a recongnisable, legitimate overall champion is important for both the riders and the sport in general - the value of having a clear winner and a streamlined narrative story is hard to overstate when it comes to getting the attention of mainstream sponsors and media. Whether you think this is necessary or not is a valid debate, but with such attention events will be able to improve, the rider's efforts will be more handsomely rewarded and the good word of the shred can be spread further.