Lausanne, Switzerland / Salt Lake City, USA – Event organizers of Swatch Freeride World Tour, Freeskiing World Tour, and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding announced this week a merger that will combine all three tours under one unified, global, five-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 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 sports' growth," said Nicolas Hale-Woods, Freeride World Tour Managing Director Europe. "Not only at the Freeride World Tour level, but also at the qualifying level, with events happening in New Zealand, North and South America, and Europe, all counting toward one unique Freeride World Qualifier 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."
For 2013, start lists will feature qualified athletes from all three of the 2012 tours, as well as from qualifier events (four-star events), along with a limited number of wild card entries from both continents.
"The merger of the two ski tours is a great step for our sport," said 2012 Swatch Freeride World Tour Champion Reine Barkered of Sweden. "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."
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 at 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 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 five-star Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face, there will be around 40 qualifier events (FWQ) around the world, ranging from one to four-stars, for up-and-coming athletes to earn a spot on the next year's FWT. First stops of the four-star FWQ will be in New Zealand and in Chile in August 2012. Riders will score points in two separate rankings, a five-star FWT ranking and a one to four-star FWQ ranking.
The North Face, a long-time supporter of big mountain skiing and snowboarding, the 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.
"The North Face is excited to be a partner in this next generation of freeride competition. Athletes like Ingrid Backstrom and Dana Flahr were able to foster and showcase their talents in this competitive forum and we're looking forward to the expansion of this arena across multiple sports," said Aaron Carpenter, Vice President of Marketing at The North Face. "We take pride in the role our pioneering athletes and innovative products have in both the history and future of action sports. This collaboration signifies our commitment to the continual evolution of freeriding and its athletes."
"It is a great pride to welcome The North Face as presenting partner of Swatch Freeride World Tour. The fit between the two brands is just perfect," said Nicolas Hale-Woods, Freeride World Tour Managing Director Europe.
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.
Freeride World Tour also welcomes a new FWT supplier: PrimaLoft, key actor of the winter sports industry in terms of comfort and security.
Competition Calendar For Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face 2013:
Dates: 26 January - 1 February; Location: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard
4. Fieberbrunn Pillerseetal
5. Europe - Location To Be Confirmed
6. Verbier Xtreme
Choose From Men Or Women Below To Download The Pre-qualified, Invited Athlete List:
News: Skiing And Snowboarding See Unified World Tour For 2013, Dates Announced