All of the qualified athletes, including returning veterans, newly arrived Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) riders, and elite wild cards, have confirmed their spots and will now face off at six events. Top-notch live broadcasting at every event means fans of freeride don’t have to miss a single run of FWT 2014.
The SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® 2014 begins one month earlier than in 2013, at Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada, during the week before Christmas. This kick-off event on December 18, 2013, represents the first competition of the fully realized FWT. While the successful 2013 tour included top riders from the three previously independent circuits (the Freeskiing and the Freeride World Tours and The North Face® Masters of Snowboarding), the 2014 tour features the elite riders who were able to advance from this initial group, holding on to their coveted spot through their results from last year.
Added to the mix is fresh talent from the Freeride World Qualifier. Of the more than 1,300 riders registered under the FWQ global ranking system, only eight ski men, six ski women, six snowboard men, and two snowboard women were rewarded a spot on FWT 2014. In addition, a handful of wild cards ensure the best local riders, such as Kirkwood resident Josh Daiek (USA) and Austria’s Eva Walkner, who was injured in FWT 13, have their chance to shine when the FWT comes to town.
“The FWT 2014 line-up of athletes has never been so strong, with a mix of super experienced FWT riders and hungry newcomers who battled through the FWQ last winter to earn their spot in the elite,” said FWT General Manager Europe, Nicolas Hale-Woods. “The progression of the sport continues to evolve with riders like Markus Eder (ITA) and Drew Tabke (USA) incorporating freestyle into untouched terrain. Plus, skyrocketing live webcast figures show how exciting the sport is to the eyes of the fans, media, resorts and partners.”
Thanks to the growth of the sport in the hands of FWT, there is more support than ever from title sponsor SWATCH, presenting partner The North Face®, and the partner resorts. “I’m super excited for 2014,” said 2013 men’s ski world champion Drew Tabke (USA). “In the last year alone the support from our sponsors, the quality of event coverage, and the level of riding have all gone through the roof. And, it looks like this year that trend is going to continue. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in freeride.”
FWT 2014 visits the same six resorts as last year, though on an updated schedule. Based on the consistent, reliable snowfall in Revelstoke, the tour begins on December 18, 2013, the earliest date ever. Three events in Europe – Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy; Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France; and Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen, Austria – follow quickly thereafter. This means that four of the season’s six events will be completed by early February 2014, allowing for a three-week break during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The tour roars back to life on March 1, 2014, in Kirkwood, USA, before returning once again to the hallowed slopes of Verbier, Switzerland, for the world finals at the Swatch Verbier Xtreme 2014 by The North Face®.
More from the riders:
Men’s 2013 Overall Snowboard Champion Ralph Backstrom of Squaw Valley, USA – “I'm excited to see what the cat dragged in from the FWQ; I expect to see some really good new riders joining the competitors from last year’s FWT. My favorite comp is Revelstoke and I hope the conditions work out for us with an earlier weather window. It seems like we always get lucky in Canada.”
Women’s 2013 Overall Snowboard Champion Elodie Mouthon of La Clusaz, France – “I am so excited about the FWT 2014 beginning again. I hope to hold onto my title and I will do everything for that. I am just a little disappointed that my sister won’t be any more with us due to her 6th place in the general classification last year.“
Women’s 2013 Overall Ski Champion Nadine Wallner of Arlberg, Austria –“My recent trip to New Zealand motivated me and was the perfect warm-up to the upcoming season. I’m looking forward to new faces, riders and joint trips to check out the spots of this world. My goal for this season is to defend the title. Even more important though is to have some good runs, ride some good lines that make me happy, and to build on the experience that I collected last season.”
Men’s 2013 Region 1 FWQ Snowboard qualifier Johannes Schnitzer of Munich, Germany – “The FWQ is fantastic as it gives all riders the opportunity to show their skills, and you can learn a lot about riding and training for contests. Competing in the FWT now, I hop I’ll have a good time and learning a lot from the other riders. I’ll give everything to further push the level of freeride snowboarding.”
Men’s 2013 Region 2 FWQ Ski qualifier Ian Borgeson of Dillon, USA – “Being on the FWT is a dream come true! The FWT offers great exposure for all its athletes. Hopefully it will jump start my career as a skier. I’m looking forward to visiting places like Revelstoke and Chamonix. These will be some of my first visual inspection only competitions so that will be challenging for sure. It should make me a better skier though. I can’t wait!”
Men’s 2013 Region 1 FWQ Ski qualifier Raphael Webhofer of Voels, Austria – “To ride with the planet’s best skiers at the most exciting places in the world is a dream come true. My personal goal is to qualify for the finals in Verbier and to keep having fun with riding contests.”
Women’s 2013 Region 2 FWQ Ski qualifier Hadley Hammer of Jackson Hole, USA – “It has been an incredible experience watching the work and dedication I put into the past two seasons culminate into success and a spot on the Freeride World Tour. I'm excited to see where my results on the upcoming tour will lead my skiing career. I have plenty of goals, but am also looking forward to the unexpected surprises.”
For further information, please visit www.freerideworldtour.com