- Melissa Larsen, General Editor, Action Sports
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After months of rumored talks about the future of competitive snowboarding and the possible inclusion of slopestyle in the 2014 Winter Olympics, it seems snowboarding governing bodies TTR and FIS have made some progress in negotiations.
The TTR, an organizing body of high-profile, international snowboarder-run contests that was formed by Terje Haakonsen -- the snowboarder made famous by his boycott of the 1998 Winter Olympics -- historically has been at odds with the International Ski Federation (FIS), the organization that oversees snowboarding and ski-related events in the Winter Olympics.
On Friday, both organizations announced the creation of a freestyle snowboard task force, which will focus on creating a "strategy for competitive freestyle snowboarding."
"The immediate focus for the group will be to generate a proposal for the IOC that centers on developing a fair system for freestyle snowboard athletes to qualify for the Olympics that includes the best FIS World Cup events and the best TTR events," TTR said.
According to FIS, "The immediate focus for the group will be to work on the coordination of global calendars for competitive freestyle snowboarding."
Even though the group tasked with coming up with a unified strategy was not able to come up with a unified mission statement, the fact that the task force was formed at all is notable.
Event scheduling has become a hot-button issue inside the competitive snowboarding community, so much so that a "riders union" was created by competitive athletes this winter in order to deal with an already overcrowded contest schedule. Many fear it will become unsustainable if a host of FIS-backed Olympic qualifier events are added to the calendar.
A dialogue between organizers of all major snowboard contests -- not just ones backed by TTR and FIS -- has long been needed in order to prevent scheduling conflicts, and to create more consistent course designs and judging guidelines.
Founding members of the task force are TTR president Reto Lamm; TTR executive board member Maria McNulty; director of snowboarding for USSA, Jeremy Forster; and the head and assistant FIS race directors Uwe Beier and Roberto Moresi.
Representatives for athletes, coaches, judges and national snowboard organizations have not been named yet.
15hMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne