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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Snowboard qualifying process OK'd by IOC

By Melissa Larsen

The IOC has officially approved the qualification processes for all FIS events, including ski and snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle, in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The qualification-process was submitted to the IOC Executive Board for approval by top-level members of the International Ski Federation (FIS) on Friday in Korea, and it looks to be virtually identical to the one in place for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

This news indicates that the FIS executive committee has chosen to disregard the work of a joint task force that was established this past May by members of FIS Snowboarding, FIS National Associations, athletes, judges and the TTR to address the Olympic qualification processes for snowboarding. According to the official FIS Snowboard Freestyle Task Force timeline, the group had planned on submitting its recommendation for a new qualification system to the FIS Council during the FIS fall meetings in October.

"While we believe FIS snowboarding staff had/have the best intentions," says USSA Program Director and Task Force Chairman, Jeremy Forster, "it also is the case that these [Olympic qualification] discussions are strictly between FIS/IOC directly and no input from sport committees or our group will be solicited."

Of the decision to submit its proposal to the IOC in August rather than October, FIS General Secretary Sarah Lewis (who is, essentially, second in command at FIS) states that, "there appears to be a misconception that one of the tasks [of the Task Force] was to advise the Snowboard Committee or even the IOC about the qualification systems for the Olympics, which is not the case."

The Olympic qualification process has been the center of a hot-button debate in the snowboard community ever since speculation over slopestyle's inclusion in the Olympic program first began. Among the issues is what many competitors believe to be an already-overcrowded competition calendar that promises to become unmanageable when mandatory Olympic-qualifier FIS contests come into direct scheduling conflict with long-established, important snowboard events like those in the TTR World Tour, Dew Tour and X Games.

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