In an effort to standardize and solidify snowboard halfpipe judging, four freestyle judges have banded together to create a new organization called the International Judging Committee.
Headed up by Tom Wagener in Europe, Greg Johnson in North America, Doug Atkinson in Australia, and Kai Ishii in Japan, the IJC plans to ensure the consistent, professional judging of freestyle events around the world. As a unified representative of freestyle snowboarding, the IJC will also work to determine judging criteria, competition regulations and formats.
“We started talking at the Olympics,” Johnson seays. “At the time I was judging for the FIS and Tom Wagener was judging for the ISF. You know what went down with the FIS/USSA not living up to their promises when it came to snowboard team selection criteria the USSA was sued by the Snowsports Industries of America, but it went on from there. The FIS and USSA have no idea how to run a freestyle event. The Olympics was evidence of this. And there are other problems. The FIS/USSA know racing, but any suggestions from any of us, or riders, are met with resistance.”
According to Johnson, there are many freestyle snowboarding events and tours, such as the X Games, the LXD Freeride Tour, the U.S. Open, and CE sport events, yet there has never been a cohesive system for freestyle judging. “We want to add a level of professionalism and access to the best judges and allow the best freestyle riding to take place in all events,” says Johnson.
There is also the issue of progression in halfpipe competition. “Snowboarding is always evolving as far as pipe development and criteria are concerned,” continued Johnson. “It’s important to get rider input and get the judges together on this. We also believe in bringing in ex-pro riders who are looking into judging, such as Jeff Davis and Brian Harper for their feedback.”
Unfortunately, the current situation between the FIS and IJC is alarmingly reminiscent of past snowboard interactions: the IJC is boycotting the USSA and FIS. So, does this mean future FIS/USSA events will have no judges or specific criteria? That’s the question everyone at the IJC is waiting to hear an answer to.
Meanwhile, the IJC is forging ahead. With the help of Maria McNulty and Vicki Spencer, two freestyle judges who also happen to be lawyers, the IJC’s legal contracts and representation are covered. The IJC is also processing a judges exchange so judges around the world have will the opportunity to judge at least 3 or 4 events in other continents–another way of comparing judging criteria and standards on a global level.
With the support of the LXD Freeride Tour, U.S. Open, and the Vans events, the IJC has established a $300 per day salary for judges. They have also organized an international judging camp set to take place at Mt. Hood, August 12-16.
If the IJC is successful–mainly in being recognized as the official freestyle judging commission by the ISF and the FIS/USSA –then perhaps some good did come out of the Olympics. If anything, it sparked a flame under some officials’ butts. To this, Johnson agrees, but he admits, that there was not much that could be done before the Parade of Nations marched on.
“Coming from someone who was there, the Olympics had less to do with the athletes and more to do with the promoters. In the Olympics the politics are so thick, you can’t even cut it with a knife. Terje took the right stance.”
For more information about the IJC or their upcoming training camp, call (970) 476-7195.