What exactly is your job at the World Snowboard Tour?
I am the Communication Manager, which means I am responsible for all the communication we put out and I am the main point of contact for media worldwide. I basically help make the Tour as visible as possible.
Why are there so many tours in snowboarding?
Well, that is a good question. The reason TTR was actually founded back in 2001 and before that, the ISF (International Snowboard Federation) is because there were many high level events organized all over the world, but none of them were connected in a tour structure for freestyle snowboarding. The TTR remains the main freestyle Tour. Back then, it stood for ‘Ticket To Ride’. The Arctic Challenge, was the season finale and riders could earn a spot by taking part in the other events on the TTR tour.
In addition to this, FIS had started their World Cup structure, which from 1997 on became the tour where one was able to qualify for the Olympic disciplines, in freestyle snowboarding the only discipline was Halfpipe. Apart from these tours, there were still a lot of prestigious events that weren’t part of a tour at all, such as X Games.
We’re very happy that they decided to join the World Snowboard Tour 2 years ago, which brought us one step closer to a unified professional Tour, which is one of our main goals.
Winter X Games
A lot of people say we need to bring control away from the FIS? Why do we need this?
Most competitive freestyle snowboarders aren’t happy with the Olympic qualification process that FIS has put in place for them. This qualification process began when Halfpipe was introduced into the Olympics in Nagano 1998.
It meant that in the qualification season for the Olympics, many riders had to step away from riding classic contests they loved, in order to earn points on the FIS tour instead. This is still the case and it puts a lot of strain on riders, as their tour calendars are basically overbooked with comps they want to attend and the ones they have to attend. We have tried working together with FIS in the past 4 years to change this towards the Sochi Olympics but unfortunately our efforts haven’t been as successful as we had hoped.
What makes TTR different from FIS?
Many things make us different from FIS; in comparison we are very a small non-profit organization that is dependent on sponsorship solely. We have an advisory board consisting of 10 passionate volunteers and our president. There are also currently just 3 full-time staffed positions to service the tour, planning, ranking systems and communication/marketing.
Our organization’s voting members are the 4-6 Star event owners. However, we are currently in the process, of adding the riders or a rider’s union as TTR members as well.
This would make the organization even more ‘rider driven’, as they would then get actual direct voting power, apart from the one vote they currently have through Chas Guldemond who is the rider representative member of our board. That is the biggest difference with FIS, I think, where riders basically have no direct voice on issues concerning the tour, apart from through their National association’s FIS representative.
Our small but passionate team care deeply about competitive snowboarding and have many years of experience in servicing it.
Now Shaun White has bought the Air and Style, do you know what changes he wants to make?
Apart from his intention to create a worldwide Air&Style tour and give the Air&Style events an even bigger ‘festival’ character with better live acts, I really don’t know.
What if he was your boss?? Would you get along?
I can’t say I know Shaun all that well personally but I am pretty sure we would get along. About Shaun being my boss…I don’t see Shaun becoming president of the TTR any time soon…
Shaun White, new owner of The Air and Style Company
What would make your job easier?
The first thing that comes to mind: a main sponsorship deal for our Tour, so we can hire staff for marketing / tour development again as well as create our own video products like we used to…We had to live without that the past year.
It would enable us to be a lot more visible than we have been past season and can invest more in a Pro Tour structure and supporting the rider union initiative which is very important to us.
You get to travel a lot for your job, what is your favourite place to visit??
Oh that is tough, I have seen so many great places on Tour… The Burton events in Laax and Vail are a definite highlight each season but I was also super stoked to go to Beijing for the first time with Air&Style 3 years ago. There have just been too many great places, I can’t pick just one..