Founding Members: Chas Guldemond, Mark McMorris, Peetu Piiroinen, Sebastien Toutant, Seppe Smits, Gjermund Braten, Sage Kotsenburg
WAS alliance: Jamie Anderson, Louie Vito, Mason Aguirre, Greg Bretz, Elena Hight, Charles Reid, Matt Ladley, Jack Mitrani, Luke Mitrani, Kaitlyn Farrington, Nick Julius, Scotty James, Jeremy Thompson, Spencer Link, Jordie Karlinski, Roger Kleivdal, Jamie Nicholls, Aleksander Ostreng, Soko Yamaoka, Stale Sandbech, Marko Grilc, Enni Rukajärvi, Possum Torr, Ulrik Badertscher, Sam Hulbert, Cheryl Maas, Cody Boan,
Why does W.A.S. exist?
- W.A.S. exists to give riders a voice within the competitive snowboarding arena in order to help facilitate a positive, mature progression of the sport.
- W.A.S. seeks to align the interests of event organizers with those of competitive snowboarders in order to help establish a healthy competitive schedule that benefits the competition circuit, the sport, the athletes, the sponsors, the media, and also the end viewer.
Between the TTR, FIS, Dew Tour and Winter X Games, there have been 27 major snowboard contests scheduled between December 2010 and March 2011 at venues all across the world. Each organization schedules its event series without taking into account the event schedule set by other organizations, which results in a contest calendar that is not only crowded, but where major competitions conflict with each other. Scheduling conflicts force riders to choose between events, which not only divides the competitive field, it devalues the viewing experience for fans who watch competitions where not all the top riders are participating.
Thirty million homes tuned into watch snowboarding during the 2011 Winter Games, making it the most watched event in the Olympics. As slopestyle is on track to become a part of the 2014 Games in Sochi Russia, snowboarding is on the way to becoming a “super sport.” As more organizations try to get any piece of this small chunk of the youth demographic, more competitions are sure to be added to an already clogged contest schedule.
A secondary issue is that in most “super sports” there is a clear and definitive answer at the end of a competitive season as to who is “the best” competitive athlete in the world in that field. Right now, outside of the TTR World Tour, snowboarding does not have this. The fan, or end viewer, is left confused at the end of an event series asking the question, which snowboarder is “the best” — the one who won X Games, Dew Cup, Burton Global Open Series, or the FIS World Championships? Without a defined tour, the end viewer has to accept what they hear on the television broadcast, and that’s up to whatever tour you choice to watch.
Television also dictates the times that competitions take place and schedules that align with broadcast needs, but not necessarily the needs of the athletes. For example: competitions that take place at twilight when riders can’t see landings, or during severe storms when riding conditions are obviously unsafe. Baseball stops in the rain, golf delays during thunderstorms, and ski jumping is postponed when the winds hit specific speeds. Snowboarding events should follow the same rules.
W.A.S. aims to become a collective voice for competitive snowboarders, who seek to work together with the organizers of the events in which we participate to create better events that benefit the whole community.
How W.A.S. formed?
W.A.S. is an idea that has been talked about within the snowboarding community for years. Last month, Chas Guldemond gathered seven of the world’s most elite slopestyle snowboarders in a small meeting room just outside downtown Sapporo, Japan. This was known as the first W.A.S. meeting.
The meeting was driven by open discussion about the issues athletes face within our sport. WAS acknowledged that the key to change lies in the rider hands, by standing for what we believe in and taking action to tackle the most important issues for the best outcome of competitive snowboarding world.
The second W.A.S. meeting took place at the U.S. Open of Snowboarding in Stratton, Vermont, organized with the help of Stratton Mountain School. As this is one of the biggest competitions, attended by many of the world’s best snowboarders it was the groups opportunity to continue the dialogue with more snowboarders about the issues and ideas W.A.S. had begun to discuss in Japan.
What was at first seven individuals grew to be fifty minds all collaborating on topics and issues that affect our future of snowboarding. That meeting set the standard for future meetings, embracing the spirit of the group to work together toward a few common goals.
The W.A.S. group again convened at Winter X Europe on this past Wednesday evening. The group has already made progress since the U.S. Open, forming alliances with several national snowboard organizations. These alliances are not only critical in gaining national and international support for the group, but also for raising awareness on the issues where W.A.S. seeks to find positive solutions. Solutions not just focusing on riders’ issues, but the issues felt by people involved with competitive snowboarding at all levels.
This meeting in Tignes, France was the group’s third and most prominent meeting yet, with some of the biggest names in attendance. Jamie Anderson, Louie Vito, Marco Grilc, Kaitlyn Farrington and many more voiced their opinions and helped to focus attention on discussing issues that matter most significantly to the group as a whole.
We Are Snowboarding is a young movement, but it is inspired by the youngest and most hungry generation of snowboarders in history.
As W.A.S. forms its core values it will move forward to come up with initiatives that align the interests of events, sponsors, and riders in order to help create a healthy and prosperous system that in the end will benefit the sport as a whole.
Moving forward, the group plans to meet again in the late spring to discuss plans for having a strong presence at the TTR General Assembly. The TTR is constructed as a Suisse Verein, where all the board members are required to meet to discuss all issues concerning the organization and the funding that supports its structure. Here W.A.S. aims to gain knowledge to move forward in a positive and influential manner. The TTR GA will meet in Stockholm on May 27th, and W.A.S. has vowed to have the original 7 members present at the meeting, plus more whom wish to join.
Stay tuned to the We Are Snowboarding Facebook page, along with Twitter announcements, and also on our home page at www.wearesnowboarding.com, for all your latest and greatest W.A.S. information.
W.A.S. -> Tell a friend, tell your schoolmates, and go snowboard.