The International Ski Federation and the World Snowboard Federation have signed a historic agreement to unify competitive snowboarding ©Getty Images

The International Ski Federation (FIS) and World Snowboard Federation (WSF) have signed a historic agreement to unify competitive snowboarding. 

Both bodies have defined their roles in the future of the sport with the FIS confirmed as the governing body for top level international competitions and the pathway to the Winter Olympics.

It is also agreed that the WSF will be the "authority" for the development of amateur snowboarding and the progression of young athletes through grassroots programmes, events and other activities.

As part of the deal, the FIS will take control of the WSF's World Snowboard Points List (WSPL), considered as the most "comprehensive and authentic" ranking of international snowboard athletes in big air, halfpipe and slopestyle.

This will provide certainty to athletes and National Associations for its future, it is claimed.

Discussions are also underway for further cooperation with regards to event calendars and sanctioning. 

"Both FIS and WSF recognise that their respective membership bases are largely the same and have a similar focus, facilitating the first steps of unification," a statement on the WSF website said. 

"Both share the objective of ensuring that the most important interests are those of the athletes, nations, events and sport as a whole, with each party contributing its unique strengths."

Snowboard made its Winter Olympic debut at Nagano 1998 but who governs the sport has in the past proved controversial.

The International Olympic Committee entrusted the FIS which some felt was encroachment into the territory of the then-existing International Snowboard Federation (ISF).

In 2002 the ISF ceased operations with the WSF forming later that year.

Snowboarding made its Winter Olympic debut at Nagano 1998 ©Getty Images
Snowboarding made its Winter Olympic debut at Nagano 1998 ©Getty Images

"Unification ensures an unambiguous pathway for athletes and nations," said Dean Gosper, an FIS Council Member and chair of the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski Committee.

"The collaboration in reaching this historic outcome provides the foundations for the vision behind the agreement.  

"I commend all involved who persistently returned to what is best for the sport and its athletes, not just organisations. 

"Our responsibilities have not changed, but our tools to implement focused programmes for competition and grassroots snowboard have."

A joint FIS and WSF working group will now oversee the transition and provide information on progress.

Satu Järvelä, WSF President, said: "I am thankful for everyone's efforts to help to get to this point. 

"This unique collaboration helps the WSF to continue to be able to provide resources for all nations to help promote the sport of snowboarding as a healthy activity for everybody.  

"We will still be dedicated to all nations both governed and independent, and as well to the independent events and support the sport through a more unified platform. 

"The care and upkeep of the WSPL is supported now in FIS through the snowboard nations and allows the WSF to focus helping to grow up the next generation of riders."