Exhausting struggle for the best drivers, influential sponsors, attractive competition formats, airtime and championship titles. And the peak of this struggle – Pre-Olympic qualification.
Nagano, February 1998 – the first time snowboarders are taking part in the Olympics. The history of this event was a small war around the Olympic qualification between FIS and the ISF. In 1994, the International Ski Federation (Federation Internationale de Ski, FIS), in existence since 1924, has received from his employer – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) order for the development of criteria for the Olympic events in snowboarding and the organization of the qualifying rounds. But in 1989 was founded the International Snowboard Federation (International Snowboard Federation, ISF), which represents the interests and snowboarders since 1990 conducting competition in several disciplines. Riders was something to be offended – FIS Snowboarding treats not as a separate sport, but only as one of the ski disciplines.
No matter what, 63% of snowboarders, published at the start of the Olympiad were representatives of ISF. They have won eight of the 12 awards, including all 6 in the half-pipe – and that in the absence of many of the strongest, such as Terje Haakonsen, who called the Olympic Committee is «corrupt» and the conditions of qualification – questionable, and noted that the best riders in Nagano just arrived. Those who did take part in the races, had another reason to resent. Atrocious weather (rain and thunderstorms) did not prevent the organizers to hold the competition in the pipe, at the time, as scheduled on the same day ski competitions were postponed.
The next Winter Olympics will be held in Salt Lake City in 2002. Until November 2001 pre-Olympic events are held. By January 2002, it will become clear who will represent their country at the Olympics. This opportunity will again have the best rating of FIS.
For what do I need organization snowboarders? There are many professional riders, costing at all without membership in any union. A huge number of riders is not going to make any competition. This does not prevent them, for example, take an awesome video in different parts of the world. And the organizers of the competition are often successfully manage without the support of associations. Get at least the first official competitions in snowboarding – shaped slalom at Mount Baker Banked Masters, or contest Air & Style. However, independent competition – this is the exception rather than the rule. Strong funding allows for such contests, but for a series of rounds of the World Cup requires serious work organization.
The main difference between the FIS and the ISF is in relation to the rider. FIS super-task in the preparation of the national team for the Olympics. She spends the money allocated by the government and sponsors, riders paying expenses for training and competing. In return, the athlete required to comply with the sport mode set by the Federation. In the ISF situation is reversed – the rider is completely free of any obligations, but he has to pay for lifts, hotels and meals, spending all their money or sponsorship. However, in terms of organization management ISF offers its full support for the snowboarders. «ISF should desires riders» – says Peter Bauer, turmenedzher ISF – Germany – «In making decisions affect not only the functionaries, but also snowboarders». Not surprisingly, many of the stars of the world of snowboarding feel much more comfortable here.
Of course, the decision to participate in a particular series – a private matter snowboarder. But the Olympics – the dream of every athlete, and pass on her starts Points are earned only in a series of FIS, more precisely, in those races in the series, which played pre-Olympic ranking points. This means a significant overload to athletes ISF, because they are struggling in their tour. In addition, not participating in a series of ordinary events FIS, they have zero or very low FIS- rating, which automatically knocks them to the last starting place pre-Olympic competitions. For example, for riders acting in strict discipline, it means completely shattered the track and, accordingly, minimal chances to score points.
It is for this reason refused the Olympic slalom ambitions Niko Gala, held the second place ranking ISF. Speaking against discriminatory rules, some riders began to leave the FIS. Openly discussed were not entirely ethical communication FIS and the International Olympic Committee. Even a spokesman for the German National Olympic Committee Manfred Seeger was forced to admit: «FIS has a very strong lobby in the IOC...»
In April 2000, the riders ISF sent a petition to the IOC, accusing the current system in violation of the Olympic principles. The winner of the Olympics in the halfpipe Nicolas Toast urged unions to find a common solution for the benefit of riders. French star Nicolas Conte boardercross general called ISF to the International Tribunal in Den Haag, demanding equal rights both series of competitions.
However, the criteria for pre-Olympic competitions in each country established national Olympic committees. General requirements – up to January 2002 candidate for the national team must score at least 120 points in the ranking of FIS. The maximum number of participants from the country – four. Total will take part in the Olympics 125 snowboarders: by 35 women and men in the slalom, 35 men and 20 women in the halfpipe. Representation of the country’s quota is determined by its FIS-rated in November 2001.
Competition regulations in different countries differs. Thus, the situation of confrontation between FIS and the ISF is especially important in Germany and Austria. In New Zealand, there is only one organization that oversees snowboarding and skiing is a national union. A similar situation in the Netherlands. Is the ideal option when snowboarders have their own organization, operating under the supervision of the National Olympic Committee, and has no relation to the ski, dealing only skiers. That is the case in Switzerland, Norway and Finland. «From the beginning we were instructed by our government, the NOC and the ski federation to establish an organization snowboarders». – Ari says Mentu, chairman of the Finnish snowboarding Union, FSA – «We are responsible for everything related to snowboarding, including for FIS- rating».
This direction involves the development and the new structure organized in Germany – German Snowboard Association (GSA). Its leaders see their task termination confrontation okolosportivnyh interests. Ongoing consultations with leaders of the FIS and the ISF gradually lead to the desired result – cooperation for the benefit of the athletes.
Combining developments of the two organizations certainly would lead to a positive outcome. Thus, the image of snowboarding as a popular sport, it is hard to imagine without modern in form of television broadcasts and cuts, organized by ISF with Eurosport and MTV. At the same time, the standard forms of information in the press worked better in FIS due to the large experience of lighting ski competitions.
But now, as before, the Pre-Olympic qualification Snowboard Federation held skiers. At the Olympics in Salt Lake City, we will not see again, Terje Haakonsen. He said this in February 1999: «I have no plans for the Olympics in 2002. This will be discussed further if the situation changes. But it will not change». Terje explains the situation corruption in the IOC. Its main sponsor, Jake Burton, the father of snowboarding, supports her best rider and he lunges towards FIS: «It's just a lot to offer the hockey association responsible for figure skating because the event takes place on the same ice stadiums».