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Politics and Confusion Reign as WST Announces Latest Calendar

I-Pod soaring to victory at last year’s BEO in Laax, one of the three stops on the new and ‘improved’ elite WST. Photo Marcel Lammerhirt

Back in July when the World Snowboard Tour announced they were going to massively shake up their tour format, things looked good. Following something more like the surfing/tennis presentation – one elite level tour with all the top riders at every event – was an excellent idea, though it did sound ambitious what with the multitude of tours/events that pack out winter schedules.

Today the WST announced their calender for winter 2014/15 and it looks like things didn’t go too well for them: not only have both the Dew Tour and Air & Style declined to join the tour but the blue ribbon event of the season – the Winter X-Games – has parted ways with them.

“The situation for the sport would of course be better, if Air+Style as well as X-Games and Dew Tour decided to join the Tour. This would do the sport, the riders and themselves a great service.”
– Reto Lamm, President of TTR Pro Snowboarding

The WST is pushing for a more transparent qualification process,  though interestingly that is not the case for the three remaining events on the tour

This may be to do with the fact that the WST is pushing for a more transparent qualification process, something the X-Games has never been open to, though interestingly that is not the case for the three remaining events on the tour:

“The riders field of Pro Series events will be composed of Qualified Riders, determined by the World Snowboarding Points Lists (WSPL) in the respective discipline, Series Wildcards, determined by a committee selected by the Global Snowboarders Alliance (GSA), and Event Wildcards, allocated by the event organizer on a per event basis.”
– TTR press release

Rider’s waiting for a weather window last year in Laax. What would happen if one of the three events was cancelled? Photo: Marcel Lammerhirt

So even with a qualification process to gain entry for the top tier, there’s nothing to stop Burton, who are organising two of the three events, from giving entrant bibs to riders on their team. Same goes for the Global Snowboarders Alliance, who’s riders are chosen by a panel of industry experts.

Yes, the tennis and surf tours also have wildcard entries too, but compared to say, Wimbledon, where a third rate British tennis player snuck in might be a drop in the ocean given the size of the field, there’s no indication as to the proportion of contestant spaces given to wildcards.

And, rather than offering up a penalty for not joining the pro-level tour, the TTR will accept points earned in the Air & Style, X-Games events etc. to go towards the ‘World Snowboarding Points Lists (WSPL)’ – the qualification system to earn entry to the elite tour  – so essentially riders can earn entry points to the WST by going to events that have rejected the WST…

Eagle-eyed readers will have also spotted that the first two events on the tour – the BEO and Mammoth Grand Prix – start on different continents on consecutive days, one of Terje Haakonsen’s criticisms of the current state of affairs taken to its logical conclusion.

Make of this what you will, but this doesn’t feel like the brave new world that was promised over the summer.

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