The Ladder to Snowboard Fame

Since its foundation in 2002, the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour has laid out a clear path for riders to rise up the ranks and establish themselves. Contests, style and amplitude continue to grow in size and spectacle and it is now a reality for any kid to achieve his dream of being a pro shred. So how then does an organisation like TTR provide the platforms for young riders to come up and realize their dreams? TTR chased down snowboard legends, Brian Iguchi and Jamie Lynn to get their views on the topic of “How TTR lends a hand to the next generation of shred-talent”.

Pioneers of snowboarding are many, but two names who have been at the forefront of the sport’s development are Jamie Lynn and Brian Iguchi. These two U.S. riders are synonymous with snowboarding’s progression and blazed ahead from their contemporaries, forging styles of their own which inspired young riders to push the realms of what was possible on a snowboard. Both Iguchi and Lynn are still involved in the industry, filming, judging and guiding snowboarding from behind the scenes.

The TTR Tour sets out a clear rookie to pro structure. Rookies start at the World Snowboard Federation (WSF) sanctioned 1 -3Star events, where they aim to start stepping it up, which in turn sets the wheels in motion. As Iguchi puts it, “They start at a grass roots level but in sanction with events of great magnitude. It shows there is a way to get a foot in the door and work for something where they can achieve greatness – It’s definitely the opportunity kids need”. The WSF operates in partnership with the TTR and by maintaining close ties, the two organizations ensure that rookies can make a smooth transition to the big leagues and that development is fostered.

Staale Sandbach at Protest World Rookie Fest in Livigno

Take this season’s star on the rise, Sebastien Toutant (CAN), who impressed in 07/08, took out the 3Star Billabong Snowstock in the Southern Hemisphere and, thus, earned himself a ticket to the 6Star Nissan X-Trail Jam in Japan. Also pay attention when Steve Krijbolder (NED) drops at the upcoming 6Star Billabong Air & Style, to which he earned himself a spot after coming from nowhere to claim 3rd on the Quarterpipe at the 6Star O’Neill Evolution. “TTR is the vehicle for the young kids that come up as wildcards and get spots as the top seeds. It allows kids that chance and opportunity and that’s just one of the positive benefits of TTR”, says, Jamie Lynn.

Media exposure is fundamental to any rider’s career. Whether they are a park rat, pipe jock or backcountry soul shredder, if they are not getting noticed, then they’re not getting paid. This is especially true for young riders starting out in the industry and one of the areas where TTR is most vital. Lynn remarks, “Snowboarding now allows kids the opportunity to follow their heart in something that they love to do, to be successful and make a living. Once they come up through the ranks they get the media coverage. Then they get attention from sponsors and they’re set.” This could not be further than the truth for newcomers Janne Korpi (FIN) and Seb Toots, two riders who found themselves with long term O’Neill contracts as soon as they started scoring podium finishes at all the TTR events they entered. As O’Neill snow team manager Franck Corbery points out, “The TTR’s growth year-on-year demands the presence of riders with a proven track record on the TTR Tour itself”.

By providing opportunities for young riders to go head to head against established pros, a media spectacle ensues, riders blow up and sponsors come knocking. A world ranking list also provides riders with a chance to compare themselves against the competition inspiring them to take it to the next level, thus, pushing progression as a whole. In essence the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour has rider’s best interests at heart and as snowboarding keeps growing, TTR will keep steering it in the right direction.

Founded by Terje Haakonsen and industry innovators in 2002, the SWATCH TTR World Snowboard Tour is a non-profit, rider-driven organization with the mission to create the highest quality competitive snowboard environment in the world, using authenticity, accessibility, innovation as guiding principles. Since its foundation, the Swatch TTR Tour has been developing into the most exposed snowboard tour worldwide featuring global grass root and key independent freestyle snowboarding events over a ten-month period from Southern to Northern Hemisphere locations. Events are rated via a 1-through-6Star system, with points allocated accordingly, a 6Star event holds the highest (1000 Swatch TTR points). Any rider participating in these events, from up-and-coming to professional talent, earns ranking points and a position on the SWATCH TTR World Ranking List. The top male and female rider based on an average of their best seven results of the season is crowned SWATCH TTR World Snowboard Tour Champion.