WSC adjusts qualification cutoff

Jamie Anderson at the 2011 Burton European Open. Courtesy BEO

In mid-November, Burton Snowboards and Switzerland's Laax Resort announced that they would be postponing the Burton European Open -- originally scheduled in January 2012 -- to February 25 - March 3, citing inadequate snow and snowmaking conditions. The new date is after the World Snowboarding Championships in Oslo, Norway (February 2 - 19), which means the BEO will no longer be a qualifying event for the 2012 World Snowboarding Championships, and has led to some shuffling to modify the qualification criteria.

"So far this year the weather conditions have been unseasonably warm across the Alps," explains Burton spokeswoman Melody Pfeiffer. "Laax usually starts to produce snow early November but this hasn't been the case this season due to warm temperatures. The BEO Slopestyle course needs a lot of snow and at this point there is no way to produce this amount of snow next to running the resort slopes [to] allow preparation of a park set-up in time that meets the expectations of organizers and riders… This decision was made in the best interest of the riders and the sport."

On Wednesday, TTR communications manager Matt Johnson announced modifications to the qualification criteria for international starting spots at the World Championships, noting that the World Snowboarding Championships qualification points list for both halfpipe and slopestyle will now evaluate riders' best results over a 53-week period -- between Jan. 10, 2011 and Jan. 23, 2012 -- rather than the original 52-week period ending January 16. The TTR World Ranking Quota spots for the World Championships will go to the top 50 ranked men and top 30 ranked women based on TTR points during that period.

"The cut-off date for the Halfpipe and Slopestyle qualification lists has been extended until January 23, one week after the initial deadline, which was following the Halfpipe finals at Burton European Open in the original schedule," said Johnson in a statement. "This extra week gives riders a chance to collect points or replace results at 1-4 Star level events worldwide, providing particularly lower positioned riders a few extra shots to make it into the Top 50 / 30 ranks and qualify for the WSC 2012. As a second measure, the O`Neill Evolution 6Star Big Air will count for the Slopestyle Points List. With O'Neill Evolution being the only Big Air competition on a 6-Star level where women compete, this is a fair addition to increase the number of qualification opportunities for both men and women.

That leaves just two TTR 6-Star events between now and the January 23 qualification cutoff date for the World Snowboarding Championships -- this weekend's Oakley Air & Style Beijing (Saturday) and the O'Neill Evolution at Davos Jakobshorn in Swtizerland the first week of January -- and will put increased emphasis on 5-Star, 4-Star, 3-Star, 2-Star, and potentially even 1-Star events as riders scramble to make the qualification cutoffs.

"With high class events like the Red Bull Nanshan Open and O'Neill Evolution close to the qualification deadline, as well as the addition of a substantial number of 1-4 star events including the World Rookie Fest, we believe that riders have enough opportunities to qualify for the event," said TTR president Reto Lamm.

Other routes to the World Championships, including World Snowboard Federation Nations Quotas (each WSF member Nation is entitled to qualify one rider for both men and women in each discipline) will not be affected by the change. Additionally, all TTR World Tour Champions from the last three competition seasons are eligible to compete in all disciplines at the World Snowboarding Championships, as are all winners of TTR 6Star events between Jan 10, 2011 and Jan 23, 2012. For more on WSC qualification, including the eight available wildcard slots, and to see the current list of qualified riders, visit WSC2012.com.