TTR World Snowboard Tour

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Swatch TTR Interview With Billabong Air&Style Head Judge Dani “Kiwi” Meier


Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour received this great interview with Dani “Kiwi” Meier from our media partner It sheds some insight to the complex world of judging, something so closely related to the Swatch TTR snowboarding world, yet rarely brought up unless to complain. “Kiwi” has been part of the growth and developement of the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour since its beginnings, and is a man who knows what he is talking about. Here is what “Kiwi” has to say: How did you become the Head Judge of the 6Star Air &Style?I was invited by Andrew Hourmont to be a style judge a decade ago. It was to add credibility to the Style factor of the event. I was a pro myself back then and somehow they valued my opinion. It was my first Judging job. From there on in Judging grew to Head Judging.How do you pick the other Judges?Strategically. They are all pro riders that are respected by the competing riders. Some have competed in the event themselves but thats not a prerequisite. They need to be reliable, take the role I give them seriously and deliver under pressure. They also need to work well as a team, so I never put cats and dogs in one booth. How does the setup for an event like the Air&Style look like?Big and complex. We have a lot of technology at our disposal. Its one of the most professional judge set ups I am involved in. Digitalized speed measure, lazer height gauges, playback monitors, intercom, 100% vision of all strategic zones on the ramp, great back end managing the result flow and incredible catering. A hungry judge is a bad judge. They feed us well.In your eyes what makes a perfect run?The perfection is in the progression. Unprecedented pop, arcing float, dynamic and fluid style with a unique and fresh twist, very technical execution, surprising variation, perfect transitional landing and an impactive overall impression. Good luck. We see everything and are very critical.How do you react on discussions about your judging?By listening to everything and everyone. I select pro riders as judges for a reason. They know how lame it is to be judged unfairly and they take their responsibility very seriously. I put a lot of pressure on them and they know that careers are at stake. Yet everyone has their own opinion and we need to be open to both compliments and criticism. Our job is not to make friends or feed sponsors their desired results. Our job is to collaborate as a team, be true critics of what we see and document it in a valued order. Thats it, Thats all. We put the right people on podium and from there on down the right order for runner-ups. If someone is not satisfied we are open to their challenges and we adjust where we feel adjustment is warranted. It aint easy but thats why we Judge and they ride. How does your relation to the snowboarders who compete look like? Respectful. I am an open book. They know me and we have been touring on the 5 & 6 Star TTR events for years together. They know they can ask me my opinion and what it will take to make podium and Ill tell them where I see their strengths and weaknesses. We are tight and its important that we speak their language and hear their needs. We address snow, transitions, formats and timing. Every riders comment is listened to and identified as a potential key to improving the flow of the event. At the end of the day its their event and they need to feel at home in their environment to perform at their best. You also have your own company, how to do you combine this with your job as Head Judge?Many reasons why my professional life has evolved is because of what snowboarding has given me, so I always try to find time to give back. Never forget where you came from is what I tell myself. That said, I should be surfing more. How many months are you on the road per year?I am a Platinum member and have just over 900,000 frequent flyer points_If a rider sticks an extraordinary move, can you give him standing ovations or can you just celebrate inside?We explode. We smash our memory boards on the tables and blow trumpets. But, we settle into our role quickly after that and focus on the next rider as otherwise well lose it. What was the hardest decision you ever had do made at a contest as a judge?Oh theres many. Breaking Shaun Whites winning Olympic streak in 2006 at A&S Munich wasnt a light decision to take. Being forced to ban a Judge/pro rider from a contest venue for abandoning the tower. Having to hold together a mutiny team in sub zero temperatures with no blankets, no cover and no visibility during a Slopestyle blizzard. Or continuing to Judge after watching a close friend get seriously hurt. Having the wrong results leak out into the riders tent only to see a wave of confusion disrupt any confidence in ongoing results. Sometimes you just want to pack it up and go home. Fortunately we have learnt a lot in the years and I dont appreciate the same mistakes being made twice.Has your point of view on snowboarding changed since you are a Head Judge?Not of snowboarding but of snowboarders and of judges. Snowboarders are at a point where there is very little between them and the next level. They are really beginning to pop way above expectations. The terrain they get to train and compete on is more consistent and everything is better built. They have become amazing athletes and great professionals. Judging is forced to evolve at the same speed and is required to embrace the fast change. There are no constants and we need to be able to adapt our judging chemistry to fit the show. Thats why my panels consist of pro riders because they know whats right. They can smell the details and anticipate the change. They need the right guidance and have parameters set but with good leadership they let snowboarding progress correctly. How do you see the improvement of snowboarding over the last 10 years?More access. More affordable. More information. Better structures. Better equipment. But really, its still just the same ol fun popping around and exploring gravity.