Olympic Judge Selection Leaves IJC Out

The current Olympic judges selection used by the FIS is a process that is organized by the current membership of the FIS judges sub-committee (Ola Sundequist and Ted Martin) selecting who are the best judges within the FIS system based on performance at FIS World Cups.

The main FIS representative for the upcoming Olympics in Park City (and Head Judge) will be Ola Sundequist who made the recommendations to the larger FIS Committee and oversaw the selection process. The final selection then was approved in secret and then voted on by the overall committee without any input and much to the dismay of the Nations. The FIS process is totally haphazard and capricious with nothing in writing and with the FIS not even following their own guidelines for Olympic judging selection. Unfortunately the Olympic selection for the judges has been completed a year before the Olympics and the FIS will be using sub-par judges.

This is a poor process. The judges pool that the FIS will use to select the judges for the Olympics is grievously inadequate. The FIS judges do not see the best riders in the World as FIS judges do not partake in the judging of the highest level of freestyle snowboard competition mainly the ISF World Championships, The US Open, The ISF World Cups, The X-Games, The Gravity Games, The Nippon Open as well as many other invitationals worldwide. The FIS system is a closed system and the FIS judges all 10 of them are nowhere near the level of expertise needed to judge the halfpipe at the Olympic games.

This is a grave problem for the upcoming Olympics, as the best judges in the World will not be invited to be on the judging podium. The IJC believes that in the spirit of the continued progression and growth of snowboarding a new judging crew composed of new members needs to be assembled at each Olympics or the same situation will evolve like the FIS freestyle skiing which the same judges are a permanent feature at every Olympics (some have been there all four Olympics) which leads to stagnation and resentment as no growth occurs in either the judging body as judges become locked in and the sport suffers.

The FIS judges by not being part of the worldwide snowboard community are unprepared for Olympics and for viewing the latest tricks by the riders: some of whom they will never see before the Olympic Games. With the constant change and progression in riding, it is ludicrous to have ill prepared judges at the supposed highest level event when the best FIS judges see only average talent at the FIS World Cups. The best freestyle talent resides with the ISF and the IJC crew that judges them.

The IJC membership includes over 120 of the best judges in the World. They judge the highest level of competition and have the highest level of expertise. It is their expertise that should be used at the upcoming Olympics in Park City. The trust the riders are developing with the IJC is very significant and it is instrumental at the highest level of competitions. At the last Olympics there was an effort to include judges from the ISF and the FIS and still the judging was difficult. To use exclusively FIS judges who are inexperienced will only reflect negatively on the snowboarding community and further distance the FIS from the snowboarding mainstream.

The IJC proposes that the judges selected for the Olympics come from a combined selection process established by the IJC and the FIS. It is nonsensical for IJC judges to be held hostage to the belief that they must be FIS judges to judge the Olympics. To do so would mean not seeing and evaluating the best riders, for they are certainly not on the FIS tour. Rather, the judges used for the Olympics should be Pro level Certification III of the IJC based on the performance and ability shown at the top level contests in the world on an annual level. The following events listed below are essential in the growth of judging and all Olympic judges should have judged the following for at least 2 years prior to the Olympics.

Judges used in the Olympics selected from the best judges whose experience level includes judging and Head judging the following:

1. The ISF World Championships
2. The ISF European Open
3. The ISF Master World Cups
4. The US Open
5. The Nippon Open
6. The X-Games
7. Other High level ISF sanctioned invitationals

A judge who has experience in these events then will be graded out for the following:
1. Knowledge of all facets of judging
2. Use of range and notations
3. Discipline and concentration
4. Specific focus and mastery of criteria (do they instruct)
5. Team player on judges stand

In addition the Olympic judging crew needs to work together for a minimum of three contest prior to the Olympics with the FIS format that hopefully will be a progressive one: not the one that is proposed by the FIS now and which is already four years behind the times.

Greg Johnson
IJC WW Development
Former Olympic Head Judge