Monday, July 23, 2012

A Unified Freeride World Tour For 2013

Event organizers of Swatch Freeride World Tour, Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding announced a merger that will combine all three tours under one unified global 5-star championship series. The new six-stop world tour – named the Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face – will include freeride skiing and snowboarding at each stop.
Confirmed tour locations include Revelstoke (Canada), Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France), Kirkwood (USA), Fieberbrunn PillerseeTal (Austria), and one more european stop still to be confirmed, before the World Tour finals in Verbier (Switzerland). "The union of the three tours is a major step in the sport’s growth", said Nicolas Hale-Woods, Freeride World Tour Managing Director Europe. "Not only at World Tour (FWT) level, but also at qualifying level, with events happening in New-Zealand, North & South America, and Europe, all counting for one unique Freeride World Qualifiers (FWQ) ranking, enabling riders from all active areas to qualify for the next season’s Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face".
"Big mountain freeriding has a long and rich history with incredibly talented athletes around the world", said Adam Comey, Mountain Sports International President and Freeride World Tour Managing Director Americas. "Now, with two great brands in Swatch and The North Face, and two dedicated organizations in Europe and North America coming together for one mission and one tour, the next chapter of freeride skiing and snowboarding is very bright".
"The merger of the two ski tours is a great step for our sport (...) It will add even more recognition around the world. For me as a rider I'm looking forward to an even more exciting season with a lot of new faces", said 2012 Swatch Freeride World Tour Champion Reine Barkered of Sweden.
American skier Drew Tabke, a long-time competitor and podium leader on both tours, agrees, "Beyond the details of judging, rankings, and format, I’m most excited to see the two tours’ top riders compete against one another. The best event last year was the combined event at Revelstoke. This event represented the ideal outcome of this merger of the two tours—a legitimate representation of the world’s best riders competing on a world-class venue".
American snowboarder Ralph Backstrom, a title contender on both tours says, "I couldn't be more stoked to hear that the The North Face Masters of Snowboarding and FWT will be combined for next season. I look forward to seeing some more North Americans at the European stops, some more Euros in North America, and an increased talent pool".
In addition to the Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face, there will be around 50 qualifier events (FWQ) around the world, ranging from 1 to 4-Stars for up-and-coming athletes to earn a spot on the next years FWT. For 2013, start lists will feature qualified athletes from all three of the 2012 Tours, as well as from qualifier events (4-star events), along with a limited number of wild card entries from both continents.
First stops of the 4-Stars FWQ will be in New Zealand and in Chile in August 2012. Riders will score points in two separate rankings, a 5-Stars FWT ranking and a 1 to 4-Stars FWQ ranking.
The North Face, a long-time supporter of big mountain skiing and snowboarding, Freeskiing World Tour and founder of The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, has joined on as presenting sponsor to the new merged Freeride World Tour. "Since the 1980's, The North Face has been at the forefront of snow-sports with our technical product and pioneering athletes, including Scott Schmidt and Jim Zellers. Inspired by our team at the recent Freeride World Tour - Giulia Monego, Janette Hargin and Xavier De Le Rue - we continue our commitment to the future of freeriding and the next generation of skiers and snowboarders. We are excited to be partner of the globally-unified Swatch Freeride World Tour and look forward to taking an active role with the tour's organizers and partners in the coming seasons", said Eric Pansier, VP Marketing EMEA The North Face.
Along with the addition of The North Face for 2013, long time partner of Freeride World Tour, Swatch is back as title sponsor for the second year, making it possible for a tour of this size to continue to thrive and evolve. "As a long-term supporter of freeride skiing and snowboarding we’re very happy to see the merger of the top European and North American events into the Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face. There’s nothing more exciting and inspiring than to see top athletes performing at their best, and the six big mountain venues on the new world tour are spectacular sites for all-out competition at the highest level. We can’t wait! [for the season to start]", said Marco Vaccari, Head of Marketing International Swatch Ltd.

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