The Swatch Freeride World Tour (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.
It is human nature to compete and at some point in the early 90’s the world’s most talented freeriders wanted to know who was the best. Freeride Competitions are compelling viewing because they harness energy, spontaneity, creativity and courage. But the biggest challenge facing these contests was building a format that could decide a winner without crushing those core attributes.Riders compete individually, and receive an overall score based on line difficulty, control, air and style, fluidity, and technique. A winning run will feature difficult line choices, such as riding over cliffs, through narrow chutes, or off natural features created by rocks and fallen trees. Throughout their run, riders are expected to stay moving and angled down the slope, while staying in control at all times and displaying proper technique, including stance and body position. Style consists of adding flair to a run, which could include tricks such as grabs, spins and flips.
In 2012, the Pro Freeriders Board (PFB) and a panel of head judges created a unique judging system to be used at all events of the unified Freeride World Tour (FWT)
It guarantees fair results, helps to form new judges all around the world and can be used for Junior, FWQ and FWT events.
At each of the events, there is a judging panel consisting of six judges who are trained and certified by the PFB and under the control of the head judges.
Only one unique score, "overall impression" determines a riders’ final score. To evaluate the run, judges use a point system of a hundred increments from 1.0 to 10.0. They have to consider five criteria; the first is the line, then control, followed by air and style, fluidity and finally technique.
Judges will have the following 5 criteria in mind while judging:
- Line: Where in the face does the contestant ride, difficulty, originality, skipped features, number & size of jumps, use of terrain, steep parts and narrow chutes taken.
- Control: Control while riding, in the air and landing.
- Air and Style: Number & size of jumps, tricks and style. A loss of control in the air will be penalized under air and seen as a lack of style.
- Fluidity: Relative speed (how fast compared to how exposed, steep, narrow), stops, hesitations, unnecessary traversing and hiking.
- Technique: Bad turns, power turns, back seat riding, counter rotation, good or bad sluff management, and did the rider manage to link turns in steep and narrow places, or did he or she slide it.