Snowboarders to Discuss Unionization

Mar 10, 2011
Outside Magazine

Photo from pincusvt on flickr

Snowboarders at the United States Open Snowboarding Championships in Stratton, Vermont, planned to meet today to discuss creating a union, the New York Times reports. In part, the creation of a snowboarders' union would serve to deal with how the qualifying process for the Olympics should be handled. The news comes as the International Olympic Committee considers adding a new snowboard discipline—slopestyle—at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

In what athletes are calling an increasingly crowded competition schedule, there's concern that additional Olympic qualifying events could cut into training and injury recovery time. The Times article also voiced competitors' concerns of injuries becoming a serious issue, with tricks growing increasingly difficult and dangerous.

“All the riders see we’re risking our lives and promoting our sponsors on our helmets,” said Chas Guldemond, 23. In the past three weeks, Guldemond has won slopestyle competitions in Europe, Asia and North America.

Other concerns have been raised about Olympic snowboard qualifying being overseen by the International Ski Federation and at ski federation events, which many riders claim offer subpar courses and judging criteria that at worst stifle creativity and style and at best are viewed as second-tier events, compared to events like the Winter X Games.

With many details still to be worked out, Guldemond acknowledged to the Times that today's meeting would be merely a first step.

"We do have a voice and we can be powerful together,” he said.

--Michael Webster

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