Creating a true World Champion

Haakonsen, the TTR, and the new World Snowboarding Championships (1:28)

The founder of The Arctic Challenge on why snowboarders care so much about creating their own contests. (1:28)

Next winter the much-famed Arctic Challenge contest will morph into the first-ever TTR backed World Snowboarding Championships. Taking place in Oslo, Norway in February of 2012, the WSC is part of the ongoing movement inside of snowboarding to create a "World Championship" title that everyone in the sport can look to as the ultimate achievement. We called up TAC founder Terje Haakonsen to discuss his role in the new event, why quarterpipe will be there but not boardercross, and what the IOC doesn't understand about the world's best snowboarders.

What is your role in the World Snowboarding Championships? Will you play the same role as you do at The Arctic Challenge?
I think my role will be a little different. It's the Norway Snowboarding Association together with most of the TAC crew, because we have the knowledge to do events in Norway, together with the World Snowboarding Federation and the TTR and the resort [Tryvann Vinerpark]. That's the team. My involvement is more like, I'm really focusing on the riders, how the course is built, and format and communication between riders and the production.

Will there be events in slopestyle, boardercross, and halfpipe disciplines?
No, it's going to be slopestyle and halfpipe, and we're having a quarterpipe as an opening event. There's no really world ranking in the quarterpipe because that's more like a show event.

I was actually pushing for a boardercross, too, because I think the boardercross that is out there is actually really crappy. But TTR is really a freestyle-oriented organization right now.

Do you see the WSC as a chance for riders and people who have progressed the sport to show the IOC and FIS the right way to do a world championship?
My goal really is to sit on the couch on a Sunday or a Saturday and watch snowboarding be presented by the core people who see the progression, just like any other sport. Right now, it's just a mess.

I talked to one of the IOC members at TAC this year, and he's just so old fashioned. They have such a different way of thinking. He said, for us, it's really important to have a lot of nations. But I think it's more important to have the best athletes.

That's why we're putting up the qualifications for the World Championships. It's not like, each country gets four riders. That doesn't make sense. That's why you get, like, the Jamaican bobsled team, or you remember Eddie the Eagle? You don't need 40 of those. It's funny for one time, or one guy. So maybe one country would get one spot each, but you don't send four people from Poland or countries that don't really have the best athletes in that sport.

If you have the best guys from Finland, Canada, or the States, they should be allowed to send ten or eight people because all those guys have a chance to get a podium. That's how different we think. If you call it a "World Championship" you have to have the best people involved.

Why do you think you have such a different perspective from the IOC?
I think it's a whole generation change because most [professional snowboarders] were brought up by companies. Equipment companies and other companies, that's our support. It's not coming from the country.

Of course, I'm proud of my country, and I love my country, but it's not really that view. Before I look at the nation, I actually look at the athlete, and see what I like in that.

What was the feedback at TAC? Do the riders understand where you're coming from?
Some guys are really young, and they get pulled left and right. I think you need to educate them a little bit. They don't know the history of everything. For sure, I think a lot of people there got more knowledge about what is going on.

So many people get injured and it's an eye-opener -- it doesn't have to be like that. Slopestyle takes a toll on the body, generally, but you can actually make courses that are not Evel Knievel-style. You don't have to be a daredevil to be a top athlete in action sports. It's a lot about technique. It's a lot about skills as well. It's not all about balls.