5 July 2002

The philosophy was to race hard, maybe earn a few bucks, then party afterward. The International Snowboard Federation, the free-spirited, rider-orientated association that laid the groundwork for snowboarding to become an Olympic sport, has voted to cease operations because of financial problems.

The passing of a generation
"It's a sad day," Christian Hrab, a Canadian national snowboard team coach and former racer on the ISF circuit, said Thursday. Founded by five nations and 120 racers in 1989, the Vancouver based ISF helped develop and grow the sport of snowboarding. It offered cash prizes but tried to keep the fun in competitions.

Ian West"It was a bunch of riders who organized events and who organized the things to make it more fun for themselves," Hrab said. They were always willing to try something new. It was through competition in the ISF that modern race boards were designed. Racing is what it is today because of those guys."

Unlike the more stuffy, bureaucratic International Ski Federation, the rival association which began hosting snowboard competitions in 1994, the ISF kept an ear tuned to the racers. "The FIS is very bureaucratic," said Bidal. "They have a 300-page book to tell you how to do (an event)."

Snowboarding in the Olympics
When snowboarding became an Olympic sport for the 1998 Winter Games in Japan, the International Olympic Committee recognized the FIS as the sport's official governing body. They had the money and expertise to organise events and attract TV contacts. Sponsors go where ever the air play was - losing Motorola this spring hammered the final nail into the ISF's coffin .

While FIS has the image of businessmen dressed in blue suits, the ISF remained the kids in baggy pants and backward hats. "They would be the guy that was different," said Hrab. "They would be the guy that was extremely competitive and not that serious."

The end of a lifestyle philosophy
The ISF's philosophy was summed up on the federation's Web site. "The International Snowboard Federation is not just a sports federation, but a lifestyle/peace movement and philosophy."

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