Thursday, 3 October 2002
Earlier this year the existing pro Snowboarder organization, the ISF (International Snowboard Federation) finally closed it's doors, leaving the world of professional snowboarding in the hands of the FIS (Federation International du Ski). This to many people in the snowboard world, industry, event organizers and riders alike seemed like an untenable situation, with few viable solutions on the horizon.
It was in this time that many of the influential industry players and contest organizers met at summer ISPO, Munich, Germany. The decision was made to investigate the viability of setting up an option to the FIS and to concentrate on the development and progression of the sport, often show cased best by many of the existing independent contests. It was in this light that a meeting was held and options discussed. The trickle down was an agreement to maintain communication leading up to a meeting in Hossigor, France, the 13th of September, 2002, held to see if there was interest in forming a loose association between the independent events, therefore forming a tour.
Rarely in the short History of snowboarding has such an influential group of people come together to discuss possible alternatives for professional snowboarding. While the meeting was limited in size to allow for serious questions to be discussed and fast decisions made, it was not meant to exclude those who were not invited. Simply those organizers and companies that had invested in snowboard contests in the past and planned to in the near future were invited. At the table sat representatives for Burton, Billabong, Quiksilver, Vans, Rusty, O'Niell, The Battle, Air & Style, Laax & Davos, Leysin, and The Arctic Challenge. Not able to attend but backing the concept were Westbeach and Oakley.
Professional snowboarding has exploded in the last decade. The level of riding, sheer size of riding, development of riding infrastructure and the multitude of different formats which have appeared in the past years have seen the sport grow far past it's traditional accepted home, the halfpipe. Events such as The Battle in Falun, Sweden, the US and European Open, the SB Jam, the Vans Triple Crown series, and of course The Arctic Challenge itself, have provided platforms at which the progression of snowboarding is showcased and has flourished. And this is the focus of the Ticket to Ride series. To embrace the most creative riding infrastructures, develop the most progressive formats, attract the highest level of rider participation and to push progression in snowboarding. Possibly one of the fundamental mistakes made by the ISF was to take the FIS on in a Pipe for Pipe battle. The FIS control the Olympics and will always do so. The T.T.R concept does not see the FIS as competition or as a hostile enti As the series developed so close to the start of the season, the decision was made to coin the concept, 'Ticket to Ride' as all of the contests involved will qualify 1 to 3 people into the Arctic Challenge (TAC) - or each contest has a Ticket to Ride the Arctic. Standing behind the concept is snowboarding's biggest name, Terje Haakonsen, who developed his event, The Arctic Challenge as an alternative to the political constraints offered by the FIS or then ISF. While year one provides simply a loose association between the events, plans for year 2 and 3 extend far further. The focus is definitely on constructing a clear and defined structure by which a young snowboarder can systematically progress from rookie to pro status. In following seasons the plan is to incorporate other good existing events or yet to be created events into a Master, Qualifying and Rookie umbrella.
First things first though, the Ticket to Ride (T.T.R) concept must now prove itself. Judging by rider driven events such as TAC, The Battle, SB Jam, The Asthetiker Tour, Gumby´s Big Day Out, Nixon Jib Fest, and rider friendly events such as the Open's, Air & Style, and the developing Quiksilver Slopestyle Pro things look solid. Billabong, Westbeach and Rusty, to name a few, have already notified of their intention to join the concept by developing events for 03/04. Locations such as Laax and Leysin have also shown great interest in getting involved. With the riders, the industry, snowboard media and the contest organizers all in agreement it finally seems that snowboarding is where it should be - back in the hands of snowboarders.
For a calendar of events check www.methodmag.com/TTR_calendar.pdf
If you are looking for a snowboard training camp check www.pro-ride.com