Reiter drops IOC lawsuit
May 12, 2016
Steamboat Springs — He got plenty of pats on the back and enough wishes for good luck to last a lifetime.
He could have used a few more dollars.
Justin Reiter said a lack of funding and a loss in court forced him to drop his lawsuit against the International Olympic Committee.
Reiter, an Alpine snowboarder training with the U.S. Snowboarding Team and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, had hoped to force the IOC to reverse its decision to remove snowboard parallel slalom from the 2018 Winter Olympics schedule.
"I still disagree with their decision beyond 100 percent, and I disagree with the court's ruling, but it was just becoming cost prohibitive, and the support wasn't where it needed to be," Reiter said.
As is, there will still be one Alpine snowboarding event at the 2018 Olympics, parallel giant slalom, which made its debut at the 1998 games.
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Parallel slalom, which challenges riders with more gates and, thus, more turning, debuted at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The mechanics behind how that happened may have led to the failure of Reiter's case.
The IOC's executive board voted in August 2015, to remove the sport. Reiter sued in a Switzerland court, claiming the decision violated the IOC's own bylaws, which restrict changes to the competition program within three years of the start of an Olympics. The court, however, agreed with the IOC's argument that parallel slalom had never been planned for the 2018 Olympics and that its spot in Sochi was always going to be a one-time appearance.
"They looked over everything we presented, and they made their call and agreed with the IOC," Reiter said.
He may understand what happened, but he still struggles with the why.
"If something is not slated to be in the following games," he said, "why do you have to vote to remove it?"
He said it didn't have to be the final decision, but for him and his small team of lawyers, already donating plenty of work to his cause, it proved final enough. Reiter hoped to raise more than $100,000 through a crowdfunding source to help with legal fees.
He ended up with less than $20,000 and plenty of well wishes.
The loss in court hurt, but the lack of funds prevented him from challenging it.
"The industry, while verbally behind it, was not financially behind it," he said. "I was hoping it would break out of the industry and do what crowdfunding does, which is speak to the masses, so it's not a few people donating all they can but a lot of people donating $1 each."
For now, it's back to training.
Reiter competed in the 2014 Olympics and is intent on competing in 2018, as well.
If nothing else, he may just appreciate the case being over. The most recent winter was competitively one of his worst. After logging five top-10 finishes in 2014-15, he didn't finish above 15th once in 2015-16.
The case weighed on him, he said. Fellow riders would ask about it as he warmed up or waited to start, and he said that distracted from his focus.
He quit the case, but said he's not ready to quit racing.
"My speed's still there," he said. "It's not a fact of me not having it. It's that I couldn't put it together.