Top Snowboarders Meet To Discuss Olympic Qualifying Process

At the United States Open Snowboarding Championships, taking place in Stratton, Vt., about 50 of the world’s top riders met Thursday to discuss creating a union to deal, in part, with how Olympic qualifying should be handled, according to a New York Times story. As the discussion continues about how the FIS and IOC will handle date conflicts for Olympic qualifying slopestyle championships, Terje Haakonsen and other professional snowboarders are starting to gain more recognition on their stance that riders should have a major say in the Olympic qualifying process. According to the NYT report:

Julian Finney/Getty Images: Chas Guldemond during the 2010 Winter X Games

The International Olympic Committee is expected to announce its decision on slopestyle and other new sports in April. In January, Christophe Dubi, the I.O.C. sports director, said in an e-mail: “The chances are extremely high for ski slopestyle, ski halfpipe and snowboard slopestyle to be part of the Olympic program in 2014.”

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Olympic committee referred questions about qualifying to the International Ski Federation, known as F.I.S., the governing body for snowboarding.

Sarah Lewis, an F.I.S. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that “the qualification system will be similar to other snowboard events on the program of the Olympics, and used in Vancouver.”

She did not rule out that some events, like the United States Open, could count toward Olympic qualifying points.

Snowboarders are required to qualify for the Olympics through ski federation events, and many riders complained that judging criteria and subpar courses stifled creativity and style. While those issues have mostly been corrected, many snowboarders still view F.I.S. qualifiers as second-tier events compared with the Winter X Games, the Winter Dew Tour or the United States Open.

In January, as the ski federation held the world snowboard championships in La Molina, Spain, several of the world’s top riders were at a Winter Dew Tour event in Killington, Vt.

Guldemond helped organize the riders’ meeting this week. “I feel like the people who built the event to what it is — the riders — should have a generous say in how the qualifying process is created,” he said.