Travis Rice Gold

Dun dun dunnnnnnnn. Will backcountry riding be in the Olympics soon? Well, technically it is Freeride snowboarding, but we all know that is the competitive form of backcountry snowboarding. Either way, late last week the decision was made in Reykjavik that brings that possibility to the doorstep, a fitting setting for the doomsday proclaimers when it comes to the soul of snowboarding since Iceland was the antagonist team from The Mighty Ducks franchise.

“The International Ski & Snowboard Federation (FIS) has recognized Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding as an official discipline. This historic decision was made during the FIS General Assembly held in Reykjavik, where FIS and National Ski Associations members voted on June 5, 2024. Following the FWT acquisition by FIS in December 2022, the officialization of Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding is the second step towards the development of the sport on a global scale, extending support to athletes and enhancing the potential for future inclusion in the Winter Olympic Games. The inclusion of Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding as a full-fledged FIS discipline was voted unanimously by all members of the Congress.

Like most in the community, we mostly err on the side of “who gives a fuck?” But it is our job to report things going on in snowboarding so we figured this is a pretty important headline. Also, for those riders that will make the jump into the space, this could be a new wave of sponsorship dollars heading their way, which can be good and bad for us all… but let’s be real. In this economy? Hell yeah. And before anyone gets too down on the idea, think about this: Travis Rice in the Olympics. I have done zero research on any of his past statements on snowboarding in the Olympics, but he has competed in the FWT (and won) before. As probably the second most famous American snowboarder behind Shaun White and currently the man behind the most watched snowboarding video in the mainstream with Art of Flight streaming on Netflix a few years back, this could be the thing that closes that gap. As Shaun is looking to launch his own contest series (more to come soon), maybe Travis comes in and beats Shaun in the realm he has ruled for most of the last two decades. Maybe Travis can even medal in the summer Olympics if they decide to run the 2032 Games in Australia during the Northern Hemisphere Summer instead of the Southern. Kelly Slater won a pipe masters at 50, this might allow Travis Rice to rack up Olympic golds well into his 60s!

We couldn’t get on the FIS’s official website today… which we were used to since nobody can really find where they broadcast their contests either, but their new partner in the Freeride World Tour also had a press release drop. The rest of it is below:

“This is an important day for the freeride community,” said Nicolas Hale-Woods, Founder and CEO of FWT. “The recognition of Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding as an official discipline within FIS will elevate the sport and provide new opportunities for athletes worldwide. We are excited about the future prospects this brings to the freeride movement and beyond.”

FIS is the home of snow sports in all its forms, for everyone – it is only natural for us to fully embrace the excitement of a rising discipline like Freeride. We are thrilled to have them as part of the family.Johan Eliasch, FIS President

Following this recognition, Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding will undergo a voting process within individual National Ski Associations worldwide. This step emphasizes grassroots development, ensuring the sport gains widespread support and that young athletes have the resources needed to excel.

The Freeride World Championships will now be included within the FIS framework, paving the way for a structured and unified approach to competitions and athlete development.

This is just the beginning. Our goal is to nurture the sport at all levels, from grassroots to elite competitions, and to see Freeride Skiing and Snowboarding represented in future Winter Olympic Games.Nicolas Hale-Woods, FWT Founder

The recognition by FIS is expected to have a profound impact on the freeride community, providing a platform for athletes to showcase their skills on an international stage and encouraging the next generation of freeriders to pursue their passion with greater support and resources.”

As always, more contests presents the opportunity for snowboarding to grow. Now if it is handled in the right or wrong way is up to them and the riders but personally, we all would love to watch more talented riding on screen. Hopefully, they can get it running smoother than the website.