Freeride World Tour Athletes Announced | One Third of the Competitors are American

SnowBrains |
Freeride World Tour
Freeride World Tour

The Freeride World Tour just announced the qualified athletes for the 2015 Freeride World Tour.  Of the 56 Competitors involved, 19 are Americans.  That means that 33% of the entire FWT field is American and there isn’t a single stop in America this year…  Kinda weird…

Freeride World Tour
Freeride World Tour

Freeride World Tour Press Release:

The countdown has begun for SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR 2015 BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT). All of the world class athletes who will be battling the lines of the prestigious tour have been confirmed and have now stepped into preparation mode.

Defending champions ready and four continents represented

All of the four defending champions in skiing and snowboarding are back in the game on the FWT 2015! Right now they are preparing to take up the fight with fellow riders from no less than four continents. Besides the defending champions the riders list features Olympians, Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) champions, wild cards and injury come-backs.

Ski – Men

FWT Ski Men 2015
FWT Ski Men 2015

The newcomers are the winners of the 2014 FWQ region 1 and 2, Leo Slemett (FRA) and Kyle Taylor (USA), along with their respective overall FWQ podium companions.

One of the wild cards is Ivan Malakhov (RUS) who managed to take part in FWQ events of both regions in 2014 and notably skied a spectacular 2nd place line in the Andorra FWQ event El Dorado Freeride 4* Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra. The last 4 wild cards given in the men’s skiing have been awarded to: Markus Eder (ITA), who had a break from the FWT in 2014 to enter the Olympic slopestyle competition, Wille Lindberg (SWE), who had two FWT podiums in 2013, Drew Tabke (USA), – FWT champion 2013 and Felix Wiemers (GER). Charlie Lyons (NZL) is back on an injury wild card and ready – showing great come-back form by winning the FWQ 3* The North Face® Freeski Open NZ 2014 earlier this month.

The top 16 from last year automatically qualified. One of these is 6-time FWT-skier, Stefan Häusl (AUT) who is as motivated as ever: “Staying motivated is pretty easy for me. I always dreamed about being a professional athlete. And since a kid I loved skiing. To me, it is the best life I can have at the moment. I can make a living from the sport I love the most.”

Ski – Women

ski women FWT 2014
ski women FWT 2014

Already revealed earlier this month was the kiwi come-back on the women’s ski side with Janina Kuzma (NZL) returning to the FWT after an Olympic escapade in half-pipe. Eva Walkner (AUT) will be back on the FWT on an injury wild card.

Qualified from the FWQ are the top 2 women of both regions with Lotten Rapp (SWE) and Hazel Birnbaum (USA) as the winners. Ashley Maxfield (USA) re-qualified for FWT finishing second of FWQ Region2. »

Top 7 from last year is back again with strong representation from the US, Austria and Sweden featuring two-time FWT champion, Nadine Wallner (AUT), and former FWT champion Christine Hargin (SWE). Unfortunately Pia Nic Gundersen (NOR) is injured and won’t be able to compete this coming season. Jaclyn Paaso (USA) is especially excited about the FWT stop in Alaska: “This season I’m really looking forward to the Alaska event. I would love to represent the U.S. at this event in North America.”

Snowboard – Men

FWT 2014 Snowboard men
FWT 2014 Snowboard men

The riders list for snowboarding includes the top 2 men from the FWQ 2014 region 1 and 2 where the winners were Camille Armand (FRA) and Colin Boyd (USA).

The wild cards have been given to 2013 FWT champion Ralph Backstrom (USA) and 2012 FWT champion Jonathan Charlet (FRA) who is back from injury (injury wild card)

The top 8 riders from last year’s FWT are automatically qualified and all of them are present again with current FWT champion Emilien Badoux (SUI) at the top. Ludovic Guillot-Diat (FRA) is excited about the new destinations. He already knows Andorra, having won an FWQ there in 2011 before making his spot on the FWT: “I’m excited to return to Andorra – this time for the FWT! The organization there was awesome last time and they took excellent care of us.” As for Alaska, this would be totally new territory and “the realization of a dream for me”, the experienced French rider reveals.

Snowboard – Women

FWT 2014 Snowboard men
FWT 2014 Snowboard women

Top 4 women from last season are back, with champion Shannan Yates (USA) at the top. The newcomers from the two FWQ regions are the winners of the women’s FWQ, Anouck Mouthon (FRA) and Mary Celia Boddington (USA). Margot Rozies (FRA) decided to end her career as a professional athlete. A wild card has been awarded to Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA/SUI) who won the FWT title back in 2011.

Defending world champion in women’s snowboarding, Shannan Yates from the US, is impatient to be back and of course to go for the title again. I look forward to being a part of this community of amazing athletes. I feel that the female athletes continue to raise the bar and push harder, they are adding freestyle, big airs and speed! I hope to ride strong and finish well.”

Freeride World Tour - Squaw Valley, USA
Freeride World Tour – Squaw Valley, USA

Prize money

Besides the pleasure of riding well and being part of the FWT community, the riders can look forward to a total FWT prize money pool of more than 400,000 USD.

Freeride World Tour, Italy
Freeride World Tour, Italy

On the athletic side

The athletes are currently preparing for the season in their respective corners of the world. Jaclyn Paaso has had a busy summer mountain biking and is now in ski prep mode and impatient for the season to start: “Preparation for this season is going well, I had a little set back while training for the UCI Down Hill World Cup (mountain biking) this summer but it hasn’t stopped me from getting work done in the gym. I think I’ll be coming into this season stronger than ever. I can’t wait for winter!” Others have been doing surfing, slackline and rock climbing in addition to gym work. “Fitness is a key part in performing well on the tour,” as world champion Shannan Yates says. She has been doing hill climbs, road biking and altitude trail running besides her core training routines to be strong for the demanding season in sight.

Nicolas Hale-Woods, General Manager of the FWT, is impressed with how the sport is evolving: “On the athletic side, we can look forward to an intense battle between a very dense field of excellent riders. It will be nothing less than spectacular! There has been a continuous and solid progression of the sport, and we see more airs featuring freestyle tricks and big amplitude. The mix of the classic FWT stops and the new destinations will make it possible for all riders to re-interpret and be creative and put on a great show for the fans.”

This year again, it will be possible to follow all of the runs of the riders on live broadcasts from all of the events, starting with Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, on January 24, 2015.


Event calendar and Cut

Date: Jan. 24, 2015; Location: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, FRA
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

Date: Jan. 31, 2015; Location: Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen, AUT
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

Date: Feb 14, 2015; Location: Vallnord Arcalis, AND
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

The following cut takes place after event NO. 3:
– Top 16 Men Ski (from 28)
– Top 8 Men Snowboard (from 14)
– Top 7 Women Ski (from 13)
– Top 5 Women Snowboard (from 7)
are qualified for FWT Alaska

Date: March 14, 2015; Location: tbc
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard

Date: March 28, 2015; Location: Verbier, SUI
Disciplines: Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard


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