With the completion of the YOZ Games in Laax, Switzerland in mid November, the International Snowboard Federation (ISF) kicked off a snowboard season that is again embroiled in politics, controversy, and a division of the sport. Caught in the middle are the professional riders who want to support the ISF–a by-snowboarders, for-snowboarders group–but also would like to train for and hopefully attend the Olympics, which means competing in contests controlled and sanctioned by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
According to Bernd Hupfauf of the ISF communications department, the European Professional Snowboarders Association (PSA) riders decided that they would only support ISF-sanctioned events. By making this decision, the group decided that if a rider enters a non-ISF event, he or she won't be allowed to enter another ISF event during the season. However, there isn't a PSA (or strong ISF organization for that matter) in the U.S., and U.S. riders can enter domestic events that are sanctioned by either the ISF or FIS. This means Europeans could come to the U.S. and compete in the ISF sanctioned U.S. Open as well as the FIS-backed Grand Prix series.
Of course, the European ruling makes it tough for U.S. snowboarders who plan on traveling to Europe this season, such as the U.S. Snowboard Team. The riders on the team typically travel overseas to compete in both the FIS and ISF events to get the most practice and experience they can. However, that won't be the case this year, and the team members are forced to choose if they want to follow the FIS World Cup tour or attend the newly formed ISF World Pro Tour.
In other ISF news, the organization announced a long-term collaboration with Motorola, Inc. The wireless communications giant will sponsor the renamed Motorola ISF World Pro Tour and the Motorola ISF Championship Rankings.
“Both the ISF and Motorola are recognized leaders in their respective markets, and we are very excited to join forces,” says ISF CEO Ralf Scheitenberger. “The alliance is much more than a sponsorship program. The ISF looks forward to integrating Motorola's communication innovations directly with its riders, events, and global promotions of the sport.”
Geoffrey Frost, Motorola VP Global Communications, confirmed: “The ISF is a terrific sponsorship for Motorola. Snowboarding has a huge influence on the fashion and attitude of youth culture worldwide. It's one of the fastest-growing sports in North America and Europe, and is gaining speed in Asia and South America. Additionally, snowboarders skew younger and are among the heaviest users of both wireless communication and the Internet. The ISF is a recognized world leader in snowboarding, and we are really looking forward to working with them.”
The Motorola ISF World Pro Tour, offering snowboarding's richest cash-prize purse in excess of two-million dollars (U.S.) including a 350,000-dollar (U.S.) championship prize pool, will consist of ten events, with the Motorola ISF Championship Rankings determining the annual men's and women's ISF World Snowboard Champions in halfpipe, boardercross, and Alpine racing.
The organization hopes this will make for a more exciting season to follow through the winter. “A winner of one single and special event won't be the world champion anymore,” says Scheitenberger. “The winner of the tour will be determined after the last event of the season through our unique ISF world-ranking list.”
Scheitenberger replaced Christian Savioz as CEO. He was previously the ISF's marketing director.