XGL vs The Snow League

Is this the new future of competitive snowboarding?

Words: Xander

Rumours confirmed. There has been some serious movement in the world of competitive snowboarding recently with both The X Games and Shaun White announcing new future competition formats in a bid to shake up the currently fragmented and de-centralised competitive snowboarding landscape.

(Strategically) beating Shaun to the punch, X-Games first announced both the Summer and Winter XGL, a new, four-event, multi-discipline, team based competitive format launching in 2026. Using “Formula One as a model” this new format serves as less of a single event, and more of a tour, providing athletes with “greater security than ever before”.

Scotty says that “For the first time, we will be able to focus on performance while benefiting from a stable and sustainable career path in action sports.”

The concept: four global winter events, and four global summer to start. Each league will have its own points structure, and athletes within the teams will contribute points towards both a team and individual championships.

X Games say the new Teams format will provide athletes with a new level of stability — including annual base compensation, and additional commercial opportunities, giving audiences more opportunities to watch and support their favorite athletes.

Ironically, in the same week, Shaun White launched The Snow League in Cannes, the first professional winter sports league for snowboarding and freeskiing. It’s a slightly simpler format to understand – a global five-event tour, athletes accumulate points from each event, and a world champion crowned after the last event. Essentially, a WSL of snowboarding.

The league’s first event in March 2025 will be held in the U.S., with the remaining four held at winter resort destinations around the world, presumably including a southern hemisphere stop in Cardrona or Thredbo’s new ditch, concluding after the 2026 Cortina Olympics. The elimination ‘playoffs’ style finals format, following the likes of the WSL and other mainstream sports, is another compelling addition to the concept.

It’s an interesting situation with two of the greatest pipe riders of all time as the faces of the leagues. Both have seemingly good intentions that keep the sport, and the athletes’ best interests at heart, but naturally you can’t help but reminisce on the fierce head-to-head ditch battles of yesteryear now shifting to the corporate boardroom, Scotty vs Shaun.

So what does this mean? Is this a good thing for snowboarding? How do we watch it? Is Shaun going up against Scotty in a legends heat? Well right now, details are a bit vague.

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Ultimately, both leagues aim to put snowboarding on a pedestal year-round, support athletes and provide a more centralised way for the consumer (us) to watch snowboarding, all positive outcomes! But does having two major leagues follow a similar path to golf where you’re either one or the other? Does money and vested interest come in to play and certain athletes contracted to one league? Could, in theory, Scotty go and win the Snow League?

The other interesting player in this saga is FIS – how do World Cup rankings play into all of this? With government bodies using FIS rankings as the benchmark for funding a path to Olympic glory, are they discouraging their athletes from XGL and Snow League events to focus on FIS events? Probably.

Regardless, people pouring money into snowboarding is only a good thing, regardless of how cringe the music acts are. Providing a format for top athletes to compete in a way that’s easier to digest by the masses only increases eyeballs and creates more opportunity for your and my favourite snowboarders to showcase their talent, and feel financially secure in doing so. It’s also refreshing to see snowboarders, and experienced ones at that, putting their hat in the ring to help shape and drive the sport.

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More people watching more means more opportunity for the industry as a whole, but you can’t help but ponder about the financial viability of both leagues and whether or not they are sustainable long-term. The big reason for success of the major sports is eye-balls that come from broadcast partners – the more eye-balls the more attractive the sport is for advertisers, the better the product and more successful the events.

With details vague on how both the Snow Leage and XGL will venture beyond our niche, and comparatively tiny snowboarding demographic into creating Olympic level of exposure remains unclear. Perhaps Shaun’s A-List notoriety will broaden the reach of the Snow League, or does Netflix sign a deal with XGL with an accompanying Drive to Survive style documentary series?

Time will tell.

For now, we’re backing snowboarding. Stay tuned.


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