Tuesday, January 20, 1998
Three Canadians may lose Olympic spotsTORONTO (CP) -- Less than a week after being named to the Canadian Olympic team, three of the country's top snowboarders have learned they may be excluded from the Nagano Games because of confusion with the International Ski Federation over its scoring system.
In official FIS rankings from Dec. 9, Canada had four women ranked in the top-20 in the world and thus qualified for Olympic spots. As of this week, that number was down to one.
Mike Wood, the Canadian Snowboarding Federation's executive director, said Tuesday that his organization learned late Monday night about the change in Canada's quota from a published FIS list.
"Right now we're just trying to be brought into the loop and get information on how this was done," said Wood, who contacted FIS by fax and phone but had yet to receive a response.
"The Canadian Olympic Association doesn't know. We don't know. The latest list at the Whistler World Cup event Dec. 9, we had four women spots. Since then all of our women have been consistently in the top 20.
"It's really frustrating, especially for the athletes."
Under the new FIS list, only Natasza Zurek of Vancouver -- ranked fifth in the world -- is qualified to go to Nagano. Lori Glazier of Whistler, B.C., Tara Teigen of Calgary and Maelle Ricker of Vancouver were all excluded.
But Wood says that according to Canada's figures, Teigen is currently eighth in the world, Ricker 14th and Glazier 16th.
"Either there's been an oversight (by FIS) or it's (a difference) in the point calculations," Wood said.
To determine Olympic qualifiers, the International Ski Federation adds a snowboarders' two best results from the last 12 months and divides the sum by two, which produces a ranking. The top 20 in the world qualify.
The Canadian Olympic Association also has contacted the FIS in hopes of clarifying the situation.
"We don't have an argument with any of (the Canadian Snowboarding Federation) nominations," said COA executive director Mark Lowry. "We are supportive of them."
Lowry said the deadline for a final team announcement is next Monday.
Wood said he will contact the International Olympic Committee if the FIS explanation isn't clear.
As well as the confusion with the scoring system, several snowboarding races have been cancelled or re-scheduled this season.
"It's been one thing after another and I don't know what's been going on," Wood said. "The athletes have been led around all season, trying to make FIS events, and now they're almost being given the finger after they've definitely put up awesome results all season.
"We had three women in the top-five at a Jan. 16 race. You want to say: 'What are you talking about we only have one woman going?'"
Lowry, though, wasn't surprised by the troubles with the scheduling and point-scoring system because snowboard is such a new sport.
"I suspect a lot has to do with it being a fledgling sport," Lowry said. "Hopefully they'll fix it fairly soon."
Four members of the men's team competing in the halfpipe -- a new Olympic discipline -- were also qualified for the Olympics.
Two weeks ago, world snowboarding superstar Terje Kaakonsen of Norway announced he was boycotting the Nagano Olympics, saying the International Olympic Committee is corrupt.