The Ticket To Ride World Tour-revitalizing snowboarding one rider-run event at a time.

In 2002, the International Snowboard Federation (the ISF) went bust. Four years later in 2006, a brand-new snowboarder-run organization known as the Ticket To Ride revitalized the competition community, bestowing Mathieu Crepel with the first-ever TTR World Snowboard Tour Champion title.
In order to grow, snowboarding needs a World Champion. In order to sustain its integrity, snowboarding needs a rider-run organization ready to catalyze the community without imposing restrictive standards. This entity needs to be serious enough to make sense and command prestige, yet free and easy enough to evolve and foster creativity and fun … but the question remains, how do you do the splits and keep your nuts intact?

Most agree that the Ticket To Ride has managed to do just that. The organization’s basic philosophy is to enable riders to fit every aspect of snowboarding into a given season. As a tour, the TTR avoids forcing riders into contests every single weekend and thus causing them to give up valuable filming opportunities, photo shoots, and sponsor commitments. With a full year’s worth of competitions to pick and choose from, the TTR actually allows the riders themselves to decide where and when to compete in order to achieve their goals for the season.
Your best six results are counted toward your season’s final ranking, but hey, if you just want to do one or two contests for the fun of getting a bit of comp going with your buddies, no worries. There’s no TTR membership or license fee, and entry fees are contest specific. It’s for this reason that traditionally film-heavy riders like Nicolas Màƒ…ller or Travis Rice compete at TTR events. They’re excited about showing their skills to the crowds on sick competition features without being stuck in a contest circuit for a full year.
Fundamental in the creation of the TTR mandate are two major premises: The best competition terrain and formats and the freedom for rookies to worship snowboarding as a lifestyle and yet still grow into individuals rather than contest machines.

The TTR system is the brainchild of, among others, shredder, journalist, marketer, analyst, and strategist Drew Stevenson. Riders around the world know and love Stevenson for being down for snowboarding with his heart and soul. He is a permanent fixture at the top of every TTR drop-in gate and works immensely hard to maintain and evolve the TTR on a daily basis. Legendary riders like Terje Haakonsen and Reto Lamm were also instrumental in the inception of the project, ensuring that all essential input from the riders’ perspective added into the initial creation of the system.

Since its launch with ten events in 2002, the TTR has come a long way, but according to Stevenson, “Without a doubt, it still has a long way to go. The development of the tour in Europe has been steady, with a multitude of TTR events on all tiers, but we’re constantly working on consolidating the tour in other geographical regions. More and more North American riders are participating with TTR, and we’re really focusing on identifying more core respected events there to open the tour up to riders locally.”
In other words, it’s simply not that easy to establish a network of competitions somewhere as huge as North America. Certain high-profile events like the X Games don’t exactly fit with the TTR concept because of their “invitational” nature-the Ticket To Ride is focused on open events where anyone stands a chance to win.
Another thing that’s keeping Stevenson and his staff busy recently is getting together a decent prize purse for this season’s overall title winners. Last year’s TTR champions Torah Bright and Shaun White won a sick trophy and a slough of media attention, but there were no paychecks in sight. However, given the tour’s current exposure and its massive growth, that stands to change. Therare other ways to profit from this system, too. A world-class field of competitors and ultra-progressive formats means the TTR ranking system has become a trusted measure of quality. Riders can use their ranking as leverage for negotiating sponsorships, as well as earning the respect of their peers.
However, ranking, prize money, and sponsorship are only one aspect of why riders compete. In a perfect world, they want to participate for the sheer love of it, right? The TTR has fostered a legion of diehard combatants who are very simply down for the cause. Austrian rider Steve Gruber, for instance, who, despite serious skills that have bagged him numerous video parts in Absinthe and other production companies, has been shredding the tour without the usual phalanx of sponsors backing him for the last few years-just for the love of it. In fact, Gruber and his fellow members of àƒ©sthetiker crew started organizing their own series of TTR comps in Austria that have become famous for their insane parks and catering to the needs of core shredders.
“You need a certain amount of professionalism for comps of a certain size,” says Gruber. “That’s what the TTR regulations are for-professionalism where required and imagination for everything else.” And imagination is what the àƒ©sthetiker competition features are famous. On top of the usual rail and kicker lines that define contests as slopestyles, last season’s “Wàƒ’ngl-Tàƒ’ngl” events as they’re known had a couple of sneaky extras-snakeruns, transfers, QP-like trannies, corners, barrels to bonk or handplant, a cradle, and a fully grown, never-seen-before feature named “the taco.” “Of course,” adds Gruber, “it’s a legitimate tour, and the winner is for sure the best overall comp rider.”
Which leads us to another great shredder straight away: the red-headed competition lion from California-Olympic gold medalist and winner of the ’06/07 TTR Tour, highly successful in whatever he touches, and one who stands up to every challenge in competitive snowboarding. That’s right-Shaun White. “The TTR title offers pride,” says White. “So many good riders compete in the series, and it’s a great feeling to know you tried your hardest and this is how you rank compared to everyone else. But whether it’s the TTR, the Open Series, or whatever, you have to remember that it’s not all about competition, but also progression, imagination, and fun.”
Last season there were five potential champions coming into the U.S. Open-the deciding event for the men’s TTR title. Travis Rice, Antti Autti, Kevin Pearce, Danny Davis, and Shaun White all had a chance to take to the tour. And in the end, it came down to the last halfpipe finals run. It’s actually fun following the tour development-who’s going for it and who’s not? Arguing about it with your buddies, firing it up and seeing who knows the best about snowboarding by the end of the season. Come on, you guys love stats don’t you?
Torah Bright took the female TTR Tour in ’06/07 from a highly competitive crew of girls, including Jamie Anderson, Kelly Clark, Kjersti Buaas, Cheryl Maas, Hannah Teter, and Ellery Hollingsworth. “The whole competitive side of snowboarding has found a home and purpose with the TTR World Tour,” says Bright. “It’s a true snowboarding World Title working with the community to achieve a common goal, which is the progression and global recognition of snowboarding.”
To be fair, North American or the European riders have it easy competition wise-they’ve always been able to pick and choose their events. But what about the snowboarders living somewhere more remote? Wang-Lei was the top Chinese finisher at the ’06 Nanshan Open in Beijing, China (a TTR sanctioned event), right behind big names like Hampus Mosesson and Jakob Wilhelmson. “I look at snowboarding differently now,” he says. “Everyone on the TTR works hard-the pros, the film crews, and the photographers. The competition is great and shows professional snowboarding to the locals-so rookies can learn a lot! I hope there’ll be more events in Asia. It would be great to see a growing TTR community here because they bring the good park set ups and the media.”
Media exposure is crucial to growing the sport, as we know, and Wang is proof. He first saw snowboarding on TV and did everything in his power to find the equipment and teach himself. The TTR had growing TV coverage over the last two years, and for one main reason-because it presented a World Champion.
One rider who’s had heaps of media exposure lately is Travis Rice. If he wanted to, Rice could give contest snowboarding the finger and stay in the backcountry all winter without talking to anyone except his filmer and a few lucky photogs. Still, the guy declared winning the TTR Tour as a personal goal for the ’06/07 season, but unfortunately wrecked his shoulder in the first final run of the ’07 U.S. Open pipe comp. “I had the best contest season of my life last winter, so sitting out three weeks after the Open wasn’t too terrible,” he says. As for the best event he rode last season? “I would definitely tip my hat towards the Air & Style-organizers came out swinging with what I thought was the heaviest contest of the year because they focused on creating a perfect kicker. The level of riding was ridiculous, partly due to such great riding conditions.”
Rice has also developed his own groundbreaking backcountry booter event for the upcoming season, which he made sure was part of the TTR Tour. “Getting my contest on the tour was really important to me. The tour was put together by riders for riders and operates on principles that I believe are in the best interest of snowboarding. TTR has made it a point to promote diversity throughout the tour, which is similar to my motivation for creating a contest that represents the other side of what we love to do on snowboards.”
At the end of the day, to think that a person could make a living off snowboarding without competing at some stage is pretty much bullshit. So go out and compete, put yourself on the map and your face in the spotlight. Just make sure the events you compete in worship snowboarding. It’s about doing tweaks midair, not tweaking snowboarding into some serious sport. The riders you just heard from are somewhat guaranteeing that the Ticket To Ride stands for that life you might love. So go out and get it.

TTR Brass Tacks
The system is simple-well, sort of.
You can ride as many TTR events as you want, but the average of your six best results will count toward your season’s final ranking.
Every event on the tour is accredited to a specific star tier on a scale, from one star (the lowest) to six stars (the highest). The stars reflect the number of TTR ranking points you earn for a given contest placing. For instance, a win at the six-star U.S. Open will take you much further in the overall ranking than a win at a three-star event like the Billabong Slopestyle Jam. Of course, the level of riders that typically turns up for the higher tier events, and thus, so does the level of competition.
Regardless of the format, all results are combined into the same ranking system-a six-star halfpipe result therefore earns exactly the same points as a six-star slopestyle result.

he locals-so rookies can learn a lot! I hope there’ll be more events in Asia. It would be great to see a growing TTR community here because they bring the good park set ups and the media.”
Media exposure is crucial to growing the sport, as we know, and Wang is proof. He first saw snowboarding on TV and did everything in his power to find the equipment and teach himself. The TTR had growing TV coverage over the last two years, and for one main reason-because it presented a World Champion.
One rider who’s had heaps of media exposure lately is Travis Rice. If he wanted to, Rice could give contest snowboarding the finger and stay in the backcountry all winter without talking to anyone except his filmer and a few lucky photogs. Still, the guy declared winning the TTR Tour as a personal goal for the ’06/07 season, but unfortunately wrecked his shoulder in the first final run of the ’07 U.S. Open pipe comp. “I had the best contest season of my life last winter, so sitting out three weeks after the Open wasn’t too terrible,” he says. As for the best event he rode last season? “I would definitely tip my hat towards the Air & Style-organizers came out swinging with what I thought was the heaviest contest of the year because they focused on creating a perfect kicker. The level of riding was ridiculous, partly due to such great riding conditions.”
Rice has also developed his own groundbreaking backcountry booter event for the upcoming season, which he made sure was part of the TTR Tour. “Getting my contest on the tour was really important to me. The tour was put together by riders for riders and operates on principles that I believe are in the best interest of snowboarding. TTR has made it a point to promote diversity throughout the tour, which is similar to my motivation for creating a contest that represents the other side of what we love to do on snowboards.”
At the end of the day, to think that a person could make a living off snowboarding without competing at some stage is pretty much bullshit. So go out and compete, put yourself on the map and your face in the spotlight. Just make sure the events you compete in worship snowboarding. It’s about doing tweaks midair, not tweaking snowboarding into some serious sport. The riders you just heard from are somewhat guaranteeing that the Ticket To Ride stands for that life you might love. So go out and get it.

TTR Brass Tacks
The system is simple-well, sort of.
You can ride as many TTR events as you want, but the average of your six best results will count toward your season’s final ranking.
Every event on the tour is accredited to a specific star tier on a scale, from one star (the lowest) to six stars (the highest). The stars reflect the number of TTR ranking points you earn for a given contest placing. For instance, a win at the six-star U.S. Open will take you much further in the overall ranking than a win at a three-star event like the Billabong Slopestyle Jam. Of course, the level of riders that typically turns up for the higher tier events, and thus, so does the level of competition.
Regardless of the format, all results are combined into the same ranking system-a six-star halfpipe result therefore earns exactly the same points as a six-star slopestyle result.