All aboard the hype train, the 2020 Freeride World Tour is coming to town.
With leaves and temperatures falling and the glacier lifts spinning, winter is getting closer, and with it, the return of our favorite freeride series, the Freeride World Tour.
The World Tour, coming to a peak near you. Photo: Mia Knoll/FWT
What the FwT?
The Freeride World Tour is a globe-spanning competition showcasing some of the world’s best big-mountain freeriders, features five events held across three continents and riders from around the world. From steep, technical, high-consequence lines to launching backflips off floaty pillows and powder, the FWT encapsulates all things freeride. This season’s roster is absolutely stacked with riders hunting for the top spot.
Yann Rausis lets 'er rip in Hakuba. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
Who: Ski women
This season sees the return of Arianna Tricomi, as the two-time defending champion seeks her third straight FWT title. 2019 Rookie of the Year Jacqueline Pollard will have something to say about that though, after her breakout season last year. Tour veteran Jackie Passo, despite announcing that 2019 will be her final season, isn’t quite ready to hang up her jersey yet, and will return to the FWT again for the 2020 season.
Can the other women match Tricomi's prowess on snow and in air? Time will tell. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
Rachel Croft and Maude Besse return this season as injury wildcards, while former FWT competitors including 2019 Verbier Xtreme champion Elizabeth Gerritzen, backflip queen Hedvig Wessel, Juliette Willman, and Evelina Nilsson will all return as well. Wessel, meanwhile, has been documenting her FWT journey in the video series Hedvig’s Way.
Rookies this year, Jessica Hotter and Emma Patterson will look to establish themselves on the global stage. Hotter joins the Tour after victories at the 2019 Silvretta Montafon 4*, Nendaz Freeride 4* and North Face Frontier NZ events. Patterson, meanwhile, qualified on the North American IFSA / FWQ circuit, securing her spot with victories and podiums in Crested Butte, Kirkwood, and Revelstoke.
The ladies have their eyes on the prize. Photo: Mia Knoll/FWT
2020 Freeride World Tour – Women’s Ski Start List
Arianna Tricomi (ITA) – 2019 defending champion
Jacqueline Pollard (USA) – 2019 Rookie of the Year
Elisabeth Gerritzen (SUI)
Hedvig Wessel (NOR)
Jackie Passo (USA)
Rachel Croft (USA) – Wildcard
Maude Besse (SUI) – Wildcard
Juliette Willman (FRA) – Wildcard
Evelina Nilsson (SWE) – Wildcard
Jessica Hotter (NZL) – Rookie
Emma Patterson (USA) – Rookie
Who: Ski Men
The big news out of the men’s side is the departure of 2019 FWT champion Markus Eder. The titleholder announced he was taking a break from competitive skiing, and will not be present on the tour in this season. In his absence, the competition is wide open. 2019 Rookie of the Year Andrew Pollard will look to build on previous success, and the ridiculously stacked field of former FWT champions—Kristoffer Turdell, Reine Barkred, Drew Tabke, and Leo Slemett—will certainly be eyeing the now-vacant top spot.
The Ski Boss, Tanner Hall, will also feturn to the FWT for the 2020 season. Despite strong results in his debut season, Hall unexpectedly withdrew prior to the Verbier Xtreme event to finish his film project, In the Meantime.
Ivan Malakhov, Yann Rausis, and Sam Lee claim the injury wildcards this season, along with Hank Bilous and Konstantin Ottner, who qualified previously but were unable to compete due to injuries. Craig Murray, Aymar Navarro, Wadek Gorak, Yu Sasaki, Tom Peiffer and Carl Regner round out the list of returning men. Murray notched strong results in 2019 before an explosive crash at Fiberbrunn sidelined him for the remainder of the season, while Gorak capped off his 2019 season with a dominant win at the Verbier Xtreme with a nearly-perfect run. Sasaki, in addition to a strong competitive season, spent part of 2019 skiing and filming some absolutely bonkers lines in Canada for Heart Film’s Gathering.
The Tour welcomes men’s rookies Isaac Freeland, Carl Renvall, Blake Marshall, brothers Jack and Kevin Nichols, and Tao Kreibich. Americans Freeland the Nichols brothers qualified following podiums on the North American IFSA / FWQ circuit. Renvall secured his spot after winning the 2019 Open Faces at Silvretta Mountain, while Marshall and Kreibich posted strong results on the European and New Zealand FWQ circuits.
The men get up to get down. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
2020 Freeride World Tour – Men’s Ski Start List
Kristofer Turdell (SWE)
Leo Slemett (FRA)
Andrew Pollard (USA) – 2019 Rookie of the Year
Wadek Gorak (FRA)
Tom Peiffer (CAN)
Craig Murray (NZL)
Tanner Hall (USA)
Drew Tabke (USA)
Carl Regner (SWE)
Aymar Navarro (SPA)
Reine Barkered (SWE) – Wildcard
Yu Sasaki (JAP) – Wildcard
Konstantin Ottner (GER) – wildcard
Sam Lee (NZL) – Wildcard
Ivan Malakhov (RUS) – Wildcard
Yann Rausis (SUI) – Wildcard
Hank Bilous (NZL) – Wildcard
Isaac Freeland (USA) – Rookie
Carl Renvall (SUI) – Rookie
Blake Marshall (NZL) – Rookie
Jack Nichols (USA) – Rookie
Kevin Nichols (USA) – Rookie
Tao Kreibich (AUT) – Rookie
WHEN & WHERE
The FWT will revisit several of its classic venues in 2020, following a similar schedule as last season. The competition kicks off in January in the pillows and powder of Hakuba, Japan. The second stop in Kicking Horse, Canada, will give riders an ample playground to mix technical riding with freeride elements. The third stop brings the Tour to Europe: Ordino Arcalis, Andorra to be specific, where the Pyrenean terrain offers riders unique features to build creative combos. Fieberbrunn, Austria again plays host to the fourth, penultimate stop of the Tour, where riders will fight to qualify for a spot in the final event. Last but not last, the classic Xtreme Verbier closes out the season in April, where the daunting Bec des Rosses has been a mainstay of the Tour since its inception. This year the FWT celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Xtreme Verbier: a competition and party not to be missed.
The Bec des Rosses: a mountain you never get tired of looking at, but quickly get tired while skiing. Photo: Dom Daher/FWT
2020 Freeride World Tour – Event Dates
Hakuba, Japan, January 18-25
Kicking Horse, BC, Canada February 6-12
Ordino Arcalis, Andora, February 28 – March 4
Fieberbrunn, Austria, March 7-13
Verbier, Switzerland, March 28 – April 5
Freeride World Qualifiers & Freeride Junior Tour
Every year the Freeride World Qualifiers and Freeride Junior Tour showcase the up-and-coming talent of future stars; most of the riders on the lists above are alumni of the FWQ or FJT themselves. If you want to watch people younger than you ski harder than you, check out the Freeride Junior World Championship, held at Kappl, Austria on January 28 – 31, 2020.
The kids of the Junior Tour send it just as hard as their older peers. Photo: Stefan Voitl/FWT
The FWQ adds several new events for a stacked calendar of over 80 stops, reaching from Europe to North America and Japan to Lebanon. Four skier spots on the 2021 World Tour (three men, one woman) are up for grabs at next season’s thirteen 4* events. Season highlights at Nendaz, Kicking Horse, Jasna, Silvretta Montafon, and the finals at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Kirkwood are not to be missed.
As always, you can get all the information you need on all these events at freerideworldtour.com, and we’ll be keeping you updated on all the event results here on Downdays as they go down.