Freeride World Tour

It’s a low snow year and we weren’t out riding so we figured we would check in on the live stream of the latest Freeride World Tour contest that went down at Kicking Horse in Golden, BC. The FIS recently partnered with the tour in a way we don’t fully understand, but we figured we would give it a watch. One big plus, it was way easier to find than any other FIS stream that is not on Peacock (just live on the World Tour website) and the actual event ran rather quickly. It is always an afterthought when we accidently spend multiple days watching a World Surf League event with terrible waves and realize we should have been doing anything else… but all in all, it was a short day which is a win in the never-starved-for-content world we currently are living in.

Once again, this was a first for us in awhile… so it might as well be a first again. In general, news from the FWT is pretty quiet due to lack of big names (besides Victor de Le Rue this year) on tour but we wanted to give it a chance. It is still snowboarding. Compared to the Natural Selection and X Games, there isn’t nearly a draw for the tour. And while we all have our hangups with the judging at X Games and basically every major snowboarding gathering, we will say that it adds some storyline to a day parked in front of a screen. Biggest factor on the day, ONE RUN. Riders only get one chance on the FWT. We had no idea it was a one run and done scenario. By the rulebook, it looks like run count depends on location and a few factors, but it definitely ups the tension. There were not as many “go for broke” runs as we would have liked though, so the biggest upside on the single-run day was that it just kept the competition short.

The conditions at Kicking Horse didn’t induce FOMO or that much intrigue, with the announcers siting the lack of snow and a change of venue multiple times during the broadcast. Tough conditions will make any rider not look their best, but the level of competition was also a bit lackluster. Victor de Le Rue took the men’s side easily with a mix of just survival boarding in the bad conditions and a backside 360. Anna Martinez pinned it down the face to take the women’s portion and the rest of the runs in both divisions had a mix of falls and just riding around on not great snow. Nothing the riders can really do about the conditions. The venue wasn’t a never-ending pillow line that looks impossible or aspirational. Every contest has a bad day, and we aren’t writing this one off yet… but we don’t have a Doris Burke or Mike Breen really in snowboarding to get us through on the announcing side when the action is on par with a regular season blowout.

There were a few enjoyable turns during the stream like the announcers calling out one of the athletes in the contest as the director of the concussion protocol. Not sure how that would sit if said competitor wanted to keep a fellow rider out by simply ruling them unfit to ride, but that is a pretty funny story that could add some drama to the tour. They also call out a tomahawk of the event which is pretty awesome. We saw a couple good ones, including the winner, but Holden Samuels should probably get an honorable mention for ragdolling on both backflip attempts.

The point of tuning in was also not to just pick on the FWT. Between streaming local rail jams and waiting for another energy drink backed contest, this is what we are offered in the world of snowboard contests. NST Duels are going down but we don’t get to watch any of them live. Dew Tour is still a few weeks away and the World Cup slope and pipe scene is hard to understand for people that are even in the event, let alone fans trying to download apps and websites just to watch. The crew on the ground is giving it their best, but when nature doesn’t show up with magic, it seems pretty hard in the snow and surf world to conjure up our own. It is even harder to bring the magic when the best and brightest are not on the start list. Why not just watch movies and edits? Call us old fashioned but sometimes we like watching something happen in real time. Contests are great ways to engage in the culture if the product is good. Not looking to start or solve any problems, just hoping there is more talented live snowboarding to watch in winters to come. Maybe we will find a Super-G event next.