Local organizers and partners of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face stop in Revelstoke were surprised with the April 8 announcement that Revelstoke won’t be included on the 2015 tour.
Freeride World Tour Management SA, a Switzerland-based company with controlling stakes in the tour, announced a five-stop, European-focused tour on April 8, leaving out some ski resort venues in North America.
The announcement left partners in the tour, such as Revelstoke Mountain Resort, wondering what to do next.
RMR had just finished the fifth and final year of their contract to host a stop of the big-mountain freeriding event. In July of 2012, the event structure changed when a ski event sponsored by Swatch and another freeride competition amalgamated into one event that included skiing and snowboarding components.
Now, the controlling entity of the event is planning four European stops, and a final North American stop in Alaska.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) Director of Sales and Marketing Ashley Tait said the resort received little forewarning of the announcement. She was still sorting out the details last week.
Tait said the tour had been a success for Revelstoke, achieving the goal of promoting the resort through the exposure it received by hosting the international competition.
“We absolutely achieved those goals,” Tait said.
She said the resort is now sorting out next steps, including the possibility of hosting an alternative event.
“We don’t have any one event on the table right now,” Tait said, adding there are junior tours and other ski and snowboard events to consider.
She added the change represented a clean slate: “There is a lot of different cool things we could look at doing,” Tait said.
U.S.-based Mountain Sports International (MSI) is an outdoor sports-focused marketing and production company that specializes in video production. They were the on-the-ground organizers, filmers and producers of the tour in North America, including Revelstoke.
Jessica Kunzer is the marketing and communications director for MSI. She said MSI wasn’t given any notice of the announcement.
“This was a surprise to our company,” she told the Times Review in an interview from MSI headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. She said MSI is “still evaluating” the situation.
“Everybody at Mountain Sports International loves Revelstoke, and we’ve always really enjoyed working with the resort, and we are committed to maintaining that relationship,” Kunzer said.
The Times Review was referred to Switzerland-based Freeride World Tour Management SA for further comment.
Nicolas Hale-Woods is the general manager of Freeride World Tour Management SA.
In an email, he said financial considerations left the company with a limited ability to stage events in North America, and they opted to host only one event Alaska.
“The decision not to stage an event in [Revelstoke] in 2015 was therefore motivated by financial reasons,” Hale-Woods wrote.
He praised Revelstoke Mountain Resort and the freeride community here, saying Freeride World Tour Management SA will explore future collaborations with Revelstoke.
“In the meantime, we do hope Revelstoke will make it to stage an important freeride event in 2015, possibly a Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ),” he wrote.
He also acknowledged that his company had parted ways with MSI, but declined to say why.
“For different internal reasons, Freeride World Tour decided to stop its collaboration with MSI as of the end of this season 2014,” Hale-Woods wrote.
The live events at Revelstoke Mountain Resort didn’t attract big crowds of onlookers to out-of-the-way, often out-of-bounds viewing areas, but the event’s real audience is online and via television distribution.
In 2014, the Revelstoke stop was cancelled twice. The original event in December of 2013 was cancelled due to lack of snow, and the March weather-delay event was called off at the last minute due to avalanche danger.