The Freeride World Tour 2022 (FWT22) season got underway with the first stage that took place on Saturday 22nd January in Baqueira Beret. The best freeriders in the world gathered at the top of Baciver, a mythical mountain that dominates the ski area of the Baqueira Beret resort from its 2644 metres.
Daydream conditions for the FWT22 in Baqueira Beret
For this first edition of the Freeride World Tour in Spain, conditions were exceptional. The snowfall in the days prior to the competition allowed the riders to enjoy a layer of powder snow on an almost virgin face, and 385 m. of vertical drop. The public turned out in large numbers for this first event at the resort and positioned themselves as soon as the La Reina chairlift arrived. Sunglasses, sun cream, helicopters and drones, and spectacular descents were the winning cocktail of the day.
Of the 44 riders selected to compete, four were local: Núria Castán and Pau Riba (snowboarding) and Aymar Navarro and Abel Moga (skiing). Two of them especially honoured their participation by finishing in second place on the podium.
Nuria Castán, in snowboarding, finished second with 67 points, just behind American Erika Vikander who scored 74 points. French rider Tiphanie Perrotin finished third on the podium with 65 points.
The atmosphere was the best throughout the event, and the 4,500 people present were thrilled when the two Spanish skiers took the start. The first “stage local” to take part was Abel Moga.
After holding his breath, the crowd went wild as the 21-year-old from Aran linked turns and jumps in a particularly refined style. With 93.33 points, he finished in second place behind Les Arcs skier Max Palm, who demonstrated his talent with the first double backflip on the Baciver face – the first ever seen on the Freeride World Tour! This trick was followed by other freestyle elements from Sweden’s Max Palm, all in a solid and energetic style from the top to the finish.
Baqueira Beret positions itself as Spain’s freeride Mecca
By hosting the Freeride World Tour 2022 (FWT22) for the first time in the history of Spanish skiing, the resort of Baqueira Beret has taken another step forward. It is the first time that the sport of freeride has been established in the mountains, far from the formal framework of marked pistes.
This practice, which comes directly from the United States, is gaining more and more followers among the youth and the children, and is currently at its peak. As proof of this, the autograph session during the opening ceremony of this world-famous event mobilised many young people from the valley, eager to leave with a poster signed by their idol.
Hosting the Freeride World Tour 2022 (FWT22) in Baqueira Beret is a logical continuation of the actions undertaken by the resort to consolidate the practice of freeride in its territory, and to become the mecca of freeride in Spain throughout the seasons.
Skiers of this Freeride World Tour 2022
Top ski men
Aymar Navarro (ESP)
Born in a small village in the Val d’Aran, Spaniard Aymar Navarro started skiing at the age of three. For many years, he practised and competed in alpine skiing and even did some snowboarding. However, what he really liked was freeriding, where he decided to specialise, becoming the first Spaniard to participate in the Freeride World Tour. Now, the skier is considered one of the best off-piste skiers in the world.
His professional achievements include the award for best European skier in 2017 and third place in the Freeride World Tour 2021 competition in Andorra, achieving the first Spanish podium. In addition, skier Aymar Navarro has also managed to make history in the jumping event of this same championship last season, where he managed to take the lead. This 2022 has been the first time that the Freeride World Tour has been held in Spanish territory, allowing the skier to compete in his homeland and surprise us on the slopes of Baqueira Beret.
Ross Tester (USA)
Ross Tester is an American skier raised in Tahoe who caused a sensation on the Freeride World Tour in the 2021 season for being the rookie who almost managed to take first place overall in the men’s division. At just 22 years old and in his first FWT season, Tester finished a close second to Sweden’s Kristofer Turdell.
The American grew up skiing the slopes of Squaw Valley, California, and now shares his competition time with his university studies. In fact, his choice of university was based on the skiable mountains in the surrounding area, which allows him to continue training for championships.
Carl Regner (SWE)
Carl Regner, 28, is one of four Swedes to take part in the Freeride World Tour 2022. This year is his fourth season in the world league, which he has to combine with his studies. However, not every season has started well for the Swede. In fact, in the 2018 championship he had an all-too-close encounter with a tree that ended the season before it had even started.
As consequence from this accident, he spent several months in rehabilitation, after which he managed to recover and went on to win in Riksgränsen in the same year. After this victory he managed to get his career back on track, reaching the podium in the last FWT season. However, the Swedish skier does not focus all his attention on freeriding. Together with Alexander Ryden, he is dedicated to performing great feats beyond the ski resorts in order to document them on film.
Wadeck Gorak (FRA)
Frenchman Wadeck Gorak learned to ski at the age of 18 months from his grandfather in the resort of Le Sauze. To pursue his passion for the sport, he dedicated his studies to the world of snow. Years later, in 2018, he managed to become a ski instructor at the French Ski School (ESF) in the same resort where he started his career, Le Sauze.
The skier has been competing since 2015 in various Freeride World Qualifier events. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that he earned his place as a member of the Freeride World Tour for the following season. After a tough season, he made it to the Grand Final in Verbier, where he managed to shine after winning the event. As a result of this victory, he managed to place 5th overall in the 2019 Freeride World Tour season rankings.
Reine Barkered (SWE)
Reine Barkered is a Swedish skier who started competing in alpine skiing. However, in 2001 he started to focus on freeriding and competed for the first time in freeriding at a Swedish Championships in 2004. It would be two years before he managed to get a victory in this championship, just in the last celebration of the championship.
It was after 2006 that the Swedish skier started competing at international level. Shortly after, in 2008, Reine Barkered qualified for the Freeride World Tour. In the same year, he finished in second place. Four years later, the Swede won the overall classification of the Freeride World Tour and became world champion. Another of his great professional achievements is having won his third Xtreme Verbier in 2017, being one of the few skiers to have managed to win the prestigious competition so many times.
Andrew Pollard (USA)
American Andrew Pollard is no stranger to high-speed, high-risk terrain skiing. Raised on the slopes of Alta in Utah, the skier has now decided to coach the Alta Snowbird freeride team to teach young skiers what he learned on the same mountain with his sister Jaqueline, who also competes in the FWT.
In 2019, the American earned the title of “Rookie of the Year” on the Freeride World Tour thanks to the fearless techniques he owes to his beginnings at Alta. That same year, the skier managed to qualify in third place after making solid descents at every stop and proving that he is a freeride star.
Maël Ollivier (FRA)
French skier Maël Ollivier (Interview) grew up in Val d’Allos, a small ski resort in the Southern Alps. Since then, he has had a certain fascination for powder snow, which led him to take up alpine skiing. In fact, during his childhood, he won several national races in alpine skiing. However, it was not until he was 20 years old that the skier decided to venture into the world of freeriding.
At that age, he started competing while at the same time qualifying to become a ski instructor. A few years later, in 2020, he managed to win the Freeride World Qualifier, a great achievement. With this, the skier qualified for the Freeride World Tour, fulfilling his childhood dream and his goal for the season.
Blake Marshall (NZL)
Son of two ski instructors, Kiwi Blake Marshall was always destined to be part of the snow world. He started skiing at the tender age of three, and competing at five. As a teenager he was introduced to freestyle, finding his passion for freeriding soon after. Blake Marshall would later go on to pursue a degree in physical education while also pursuing competition.
After taking a 2019 Freeride World Qualifier win at his home mountain, the skier began to envision Freeride World Tour competition in his near future. He wasn’t wrong, as in 2020 he would be competing in the championships for the first time. He went on to have a good season, finishing sixth overall and returning for the 2021 season.
Isaac Freeland (USA)
Unlike most skiers, American Isaac Freeland grew up in San Diego, California, racing on the beach. It wasn’t until the age of eight that he was able to experience snow for the first time, after his family took him on a skiing holiday. The American instantly fell in love with the sport and, seven years later, he was able to compete for the first time at Big Mountain, coming in second place.
After that competition, the American skier continued to podium throughout high school. Currently, he is pursuing his passions of alpine and freestyle skiing, which are in some ways opposites, but Isaac Freeland’s goal is to be able to combine the two. In addition, another of his goals is to take big mountain skiing to places it has never been before. His greatest professional achievement is to be crowned FWT world champion in 2020.
Abel Moga (ESP)
The young Spaniard Abel Moga started in the freeride world at the age of 11, under the supervision of Cristian Boira, a great skier who founded a school dedicated to freeride. Years later, after achieving great results in the Freeride Junior Tour, the skier was already known as a promising young skier. No wonder, as he reached the podium several times, placing 3rd in the Freeride Junior World Championship and 2nd overall in the European FJT.
In the 2020 season he managed to move up a category, being the first time he participated in the Freeride World Qualifier, the previous step to be able to participate in the FWT. This season is the first in which he participates in the championship, and like Aymar Navarro, he does it in his homeland. What better way is there to make his debut in this competition?
Cooper Bathgate (CAN)
Canadian Cooper Bathgate, just 23, grew up next to Whistler Blackcomb Mountain. Thanks to local ski programmes, he became interested in the sport, and freeriding in particular, and started freeriding at a very young age. This led him to participate in IFSA junior competitions and the Freeride Junior Tour.
However, it took the skier three seasons of the Freeride World Qualifier before he was able to participate in the Freeride World Tour for the first time in 2021. The 2020 FWQ season was far from easy, as although he got off to a good start, the skier had to overcome some problems to achieve a solid position that allowed him to qualify for the championships. However, during the FWT 2021 the skier had a small injury, so he was not able to give his best during the championships.
Maxime Chabloz (SWE)
Comfortable in both water and snow, freestyle and freeride, Sweden’s Maxime Chabloz is a concentrate of pure talent. At just 19 years old, Maxime Chabloz is already considered one of the best kitesurfers in the world and is aiming to establish himself in the same way in powder. In fact, the Swede is considered to be a sliding sports phenomenon.
He comes from a family of sportsmen, in fact, his brother Yannick shone in the European Cup in alpine skiing. Now, Maxime is following in his family’s footsteps by qualifying for the Freeride World Tour 2022. This came as no surprise, as although he finished fourth in the qualifiers last year, this year he secured the top spot in the first four-star event. Although he is a freestyle kitesurfer, the Swede has managed to reconcile the two disciplines and excel in both sports.
Grifen Moller (USA)
American Grifen Moller has been one of the youngest skiers to participate in the Freeride World Tour. It was after the 2017 season that he managed to qualify for the FWT for the first time, making it to this world competition in 2018. However, unlike other skiers, Grifen Moller did not always have this aspiration.
In fact, the American did not start his freeride career in a big mountain team, and did not even have a dedicated freeride mentality. Instead, Grifen Moller started out skiing bumps and competing in junior mogul competitions. Looking to improve, he joined Team Summit’s Big Mountain programme in Colorado. Thanks to the steep and rigorous terrain of the area’s mountains, Moller developed skills and a unique skiing style that set him apart today.
Jack Nichols (USA)
Born and raised in Vail, Colorado, skier Jack Nichols now lives in Bozeman, Montana, just a short drive from his home hill. Along with his younger brother Kevin, with whom he has been competing for a number of years, Jack bounced back and forth between traditional programmes such as alpine and freestyle moguls. However, both brothers decided to take up freeriding after meeting coach Garrett Scahill.
At the age of 13, Jack started competing in IFSA freeride competitions thanks to his style and confidence. In the 2020 season he made it to the Freeride World Tour, where he placed 15th overall, two spots behind Kevin. Now, he is ready to compete alongside the best freeriders at the World Championships in 2022.
Valentin Reiner (AUT)
Austrian skier Valentin Reiner, who is only 22 years old, is taking part in the famous Freeride World Championships for the first time in 2022. It has taken three seasons of thrilling Freeride World Qualifiers to get him there. Now, the Austrian freerider can measure himself against the big boys.
Valentin started in the freeride world in the first team of the Skiclub Alberg, where he decided to switch to the adult class with the goal to be on the qualification circuit of the freeride world tour. With the support of the club and hard training consisting of cycling, hiking, skateboarding and going to the gym as well as skiing, the Austrian has achieved his goal and is competing alongside the best skiers on the Freeride World Tour 2022 (FWT22).