SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® released further details for the coming season today, giving an exciting look at the future of the tour. New events in Andorra and Alaska highlight the revamped schedule, with the good news that both men’s and women’s will be competing at every stop of 2015. In Alaska, FWT management has narrowed the field down to two possible host resorts with the necessary terrain and facilities, and final confirmation of the event’s location will be announced in the coming weeks. With the biggest prize purse ever, the 2015 Freeride World Tour is primed to go off like never before.
The tour kicks off with three events in Europe, first at proven destinations Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, on January 24, and Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen, Austria, on January 31, followed by the newly-added Vallnord Arcalis, Andorra, on February 14. Then, on March 14, the tour will make its historic first visit to Alaska, bringing with it a select group of both male and female athletes; the top 16 Ski Men, 8 Snowboard Men, 7 Ski Women and 5 Snowboard Women after the first three events (60% of the total field) secure their spot.
An event in Alaska has long been a fantasy scenario for many tour riders. Freeride World Champion 2013 and 2014 Nadine Wallner (AUT) said, “Alaska is the spot to be for the freeski scene. That’s why it’s supercool that the girls will also partipate in the Alaska stage. I’m glad we’ll have four stops before the finals in Verbier take place. I hope it will snow heavily!”
After the event in Alaska, qualifying men and women then continue to the always-thrilling world finals in Switzerland, the Xtreme Verbier, on March 28. Additionally, with a smaller group of athletes and one fewer tour stop than past years, the prize purse is richer than ever before, with $400,000 up for grabs throughout the 2015 season.
FWT General Manager Nicolas Hale-Woods explained what these new details mean for the tour:
How do you see the development of FWT in the coming season?
“This year will be a huge step up for the sport. We’ve been dreaming of staging a Freeride World Tour event in Alaska for years and I can’t wait to see it finally go down. We are finalizing our choice with two main locations in head. It truly has the potential to become the best event in the history of freeride competition. We are also very enthusiastic to have found such a great partner resort and an amazing new venue with Vallnord Arcalis in Andorra. All the boxes are ticked for a great season of competitions.”
And for North America, what’s in store in the future?
“One event in North America is not enough, and currently FWT is hard at work on a second North American event as of 2016 in addition to Alaska. But we have to keep in mind that organizing an event with FWT standards requires fulfilling key criteria. First we need an exciting venue with two available backup options. Then, we need a partner resort and local community that back the tour coming to town. And finally a solid regional partner co-financing the event.”
“Regarding some questions about the Freeride World Qualifier tour, we will soon be confirming an updated schedule for FWQ events in Region 2 (North and South America) that will ensure local riders have a solid opportunity to qualify for FWT 2016. We care deeply about freeride athletes and supporters in the Americas. They are a critical piece of the freeride community and our intention is clearly not to split the sport that we’ve been building for 20 years now.”
2015 boasts the most ambitious schedule in the FWT’s history. Will defending champs Löic Collomb-Patton (FRA), Emilien Badoux (SUI), Nadine Wallner (AUT) and Shannan Yates (USA) be able to hold onto their titles? Or will the elite group of riders and new tour destinations in Andorra and Alaska cause a shakeup in the rankings?
The full list of confirmed riders for FWT 2015 will be announced on September 17th.