On Tuesday August 12, 1997 the Snowsport Industries of America and the United States Ski and Snowboard Association mutually agreed to postpone the hearing for a preliminary injunction regarding the criteria for selecting the US Olympic Snowboard Team.
After a Monday morning conference call August 18 insiders are saying that the USSA will keep their promise making the three stop US Grand Prix tour the only criteria by which the 1998 US Olympic Snowboard Team will be chosen. This is a huge win for the snowboard community. The only problem with this senario is that do to FIS seeding in the Alpine events those chosen to make the US Team may have to compete on the FIS World Cup to assure themselves a good starting position.
Though the Olympic Team selection criteria problem seems to be solved, the lawsuit itself has not been withdrawn. The two groups have met three times since SIA filed that lawsuit against the USSA and they appear to be moving forward in their discussions. “We are working together toward a positive resolution on all points,” said SIA president David Ingemie.
The USSA has already begun to feel the repercussions of it’s position. On August 14, Greg Johnson head halfpipe judge for the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan resigned from his position on the USSA Snowboard Committee and from duties as head judge for the three up-coming US Grand Prix events. “If they aren’t going to honor the 18 Point Agreement then I’m not going to be a part of the organization,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been instrumental in creating the system by which Olympic halfpipe riders will be judged and he believes that if they are going to have a fair judging system at the Olympics then the selection criteria for a US team should be fair as well. “I’ve always thought that the three US Grand Prix events would be the best way to pick a team,” Johnson says. “Everyone should have a equal chance at going to the Olympics.”
With today’s news Johnson may have pulled the plug a little early. “Yeah, I may have been a little fast with my reaction. I get pretty passionate about these things,” Johnson said. “If the USSA keeps there word I will have no problem working with them in the future. If that is something they’d be interested it.”
No one from the USSA was willing to comment for this story because of the pending legal action. We’ll have more as the story develops.