The Nissan Russian Adventure in Sochi (Russia, 20-25 Jan) will launch the 2009 Freeride World Tour (FWT) in January, followed by the Nissan Tram Face in Squaw Valley (USA, 27 Feb-5 Mar) and the Nissan Freeride in Tignes (France, 8-14 Mar). The final contest will take place in Switzerland with the mythical Nissan Xtreme 09 in Verbier (20-29 Mar). This winter, the Freeride World Tour has a prize purse of $250,000, the highest sum ever to be paid in ski or snowboard freeride contests.
40 qualified top riders and a selection of wild cards will be riding in each of the first three 2009 Freeride World Tour events. Only the Top 10 riders of the 2009 Freeride World Ranking after the event in Tignes (8 men and 2 women) will then be qualified for the Grand Final at the Nissan Xtreme, Verbier 09.
Freeriding’s roots stem from extreme skiing, and is a term coined in the 1970’s to describe "skiing steep slopes in wild terrain". The first contest in the discipline was the "World
Extreme Skiing Championships" in Alaska, starting in 1991. This legendary contest encouraged snowboarders to organize their own equivalent events the following year, which developed into the mythical "King of the Hill" in Alaska. These events inspired a number of freeride contests around the world. Notably, the Xtreme in Verbier which is now beginning its 14th year in 2009, and considered as the most prestigious of them all. Up until 2008, the joint participation of
skiers and snowboarders already existed in individual contests but their union in a professional world tour was a new idea, a premiere and a success!. "The fact that 100% of the top ranked riders from 2008 have confirmed their participation for this year is really a measurement of success for the Freeride World Tour. We feel that the progression of the sport is strong. With the extensive support of our main partner Nissan, new partners joining in and top resorts like Sochi, Squaw Valley USA, Tignes and Verbier hosting our contests, we are attracting more and more attention of the public, the media and the industry", said Nicolas Hale-Woods (SUI), founder and organizer of the Freeride World Tour.