When the Freeskiing World Tour came to Revelstoke last year, it marked a first – a combined stop of the FWT; its European-based counterpart, the Freeride World Tour; and the Masters of Snowboarding.
The event brought a who’s who of competitive freeskiing and snowboarding to Revelstoke for a week-long event that culminated in a snowboarding competition on Mac Face, and a skiing competition down the imposing Mac Daddy venue on the backside of Mount Mackenzie.
The success of the event led to a merger of the three tours into one, with the unwieldy full name of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face. (We’ll refer to it as the FWT from here on out). The new tour kicks off this week in Revelstoke.
“I think the aspect is that it is truly a world tour is significant and with the amalgamations of the three tours coming together, it puts it on that world platform,” said Sarah Windsor, the marketing and communications co-ordinator for Revelstoke Mountain Resort. “Revelstoke being the only resort to host it and only one of two in North America, I think that’s pretty significant.”
According to Windsor, the combined tour event last year greatly increased the resort’s exposure in Europe, with significant media coverage, including a television broadcast.
“That in itself was a huge plus for us, just getting the name Revelstoke out there,” she said. “Whether it’s people watching that know about the sport or just something someone catches on television, it’s a great exposure for Revelstoke as a destination.”
The Revelstoke stop is the first of the six on the FWT. This year’s tour marks a significant change in the way the event is managed. There is no longer a qualifying day for competition hopefuls. Instead, the main event has been compressed to a one-day competition that will see snowboarders and skiers compete on the Mac Daddy venue, a steep, 700-metre vertical face riddled with cliffs.
“The combination of the snowboarders and the skiers on the same venue, competing on the same day is going to make it interesting, for sure. It’s a totally different aspect from the spectators side and the competitors side,” said Windsor. “I think them upping it on the level of the competitors being pre-qualified will make it a bigger, better tour overall.”
This year will see new champions crowned in both the men’s and women’s skiing competitions, with last year’s winners Kye Petersen and Angel Collinson opting out. Still, the list of skiers is impressive. On the men’s side Reine Barkered and Josh Daiek, who were the overall winners of the Freeride and Freeski World Tours, respectively, will be here. So will Drew Tabke and Aurelien Ducroz, who finished second and third overall in the Freeride World Tour.
Other favorites are Oakley White-Allen, who finished second here last year, Adrien Coirier, who posted the best run on the Mac Daddy venue last year and Lars Chickering-Ayers, who won in Revelstoke two years ago but didn’t compete last year.
On the women’s side Christine Hargin and Crystal Wright, the respective winners of the Freeride and Freeski tours will be here. Eva Walkner, who finished second in the Freeride tour, is also a favourite.
Amongst the snowboarders, our pick for the men’s side is Xavier de La Rue, who has shown himself to be one of the top big mountain snowboarders in the world. His top competition will be Jonathan Charlet, who was the overall winner of last year’s Freeride tour, and Ralph Backstrom, who won last year’s Revelstoke event.
On the women’s side, Maria De Bari, who won last year’s competition and overall title, won’t be here. That leaves the door open for Margot Rozies and Shanna Yates, who finished second and third overall last year.
Where can you watch the competition? Last year about 100 people hiked out to the top of Montana Bowl, outside the southern boundary of RMR, to take in the action. The location provides the best sight lines for the entire venue. For everyone else, the feed is streamed online at www.freerideworldtour.com. Windsor is hoping some of the bars and restaurants will show the stream on their TVs, so people can watch there too.