According to Tom McIllfaterick, the CEO of the Canadian Snowboard Federation, 15 Canadian riders have so far qualified for 16 quota spots in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. After this weekend’s World Cup in Whistler, and next weekend’s World Cup in Quebec, he expects that up to half a dozen more athletes will have qualified.
Getting to the point where the CSF names an Olympic team to the Canadian Olympic Committee is complex McIllfaterick says, but the system was created to base selection on results rather than the opinions of coaches.
"Officially nobody has qualified yet, although some athletes are going to be pretty comfortable with where they’re sitting right now," said McIllfaterick.
"This is going to be an important weekend for a lot of people. Whether you have a good weekend or a bad weekend can make a big difference.
"We have a maximum of 16 spots (in the Olympics) which we have to divide between the three disciplines and two genders. We can put a maximum of four athletes of any gender in any one event, but four in each event times six events and you get 24 athletes. Not everybody gets to go."
To meet the CSF’s basic qualification standards an athlete has to finish in the top half of the field in four World Cup events from Jan. 1, 2005 to this Dec. 20. Once a list of athletes that have met that standard has been compiled, the CSF will take each athlete’s top three results from the same time frame and add them up.
For example, an athlete with a first, second and third this past year would have a point total of six, while an athlete with a 10 th , 12 th , and 20 th would have a point total of 42. The athletes with the 16 lowest point totals will be picked for the team, to a maximum of four per gender per discipline.
The CSF will announce their list of qualified athletes within the next two weeks, but will not submit that list of names to the Canadian Olympic Committee until the Jan. 26 deadline. Once an athlete is named to the team, according to International Olympic Committee rules they cannot be replaced, even as a result of a injury.
Most Canadian teams will not be announcing their rosters until the end of January, but McIllfaterick believes there are benefits for choosing early.
"It is pretty early to be making those selections, there’s another month and more competitions before the Olympics, but we’re deliberately doing our selections early so that the athletes and coaches can focus on getting ready to compete in the Olympics," he said.