Nicolas Hale Woods, CEO of the Freeride World Tour, gave us an interview in which he told us about the news, changes, updates and balances of the Freeride World Tour 2023.
What started out as a simple snowboard and ski competition has grown into a national institution that manages the majority of freeride competitions. Thanks to CEO Nicolas Hale Woods, we’ve got the inside scoop on the ins and outs of the event, which we’ll tell you about in this article.
The first event of the Freeride World tour 2023 took place in Baqueira Beret. What was your assessment of this sunday?
Nicolas Hale Woods: Sunday was a very good first day of the beginning of the 2023 season. First of all we have really good skiers and riders and in multiple different lines they show that the mountain offers a lot of options. We saw really good action with no injuries and the crowd was incredible. The vibe to pick up the season was excellent.
More and more young people are participating in junior events and more freeride events are appearing. Are those freerides doing World rides?
Nicolas Hale Woods: A freerider is super dynamic and we see more and more kids getting into freeride programs. There has been a very important increase because ten years ago there were only ten children, two years ago there were only nineteen children and this year one hundred fourteen children have applied. Eighty children have had to stay out of the program because everything was already sold.
More and more families understand that education is the key to this show and that children have fun doing it. Most of them want to compete, but they also want to have fun and improve their skiing level. We are seeing that many events are sold out, both for qualified and junior riders, and because of that we are now thinking about adding more events next year to meet the demand. This is very good news for all of us.
The other super good news is that we see this phenomenon not only in the most common skiing countries, but also in many others. We have riders from all over the world, for example from Lebanon, Scotland or England. Events are also popping up all over the world, for example in Georgia or Lebanon, which shows that it is quite easy to organize a freeride event.
Organizing this type of event is much easier than organizing other types of events as most would need infrastructure to organize it and freeriding does not. Flexibility and free entry are key for us.
We see that there is a high competitive level because we know that the 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds have a lot of experience and are already pushing the older guys and girls. That shows that discipline is a good way to go.
What measures is the Freeride World Tour taking to increase safety and raise awareness among young people of the risks involved?
Nicolas Hale Woods: First of all, our communication on general safety is one of the key issues we touch upon globally. Also, we focus on the junior level safety that young people have to have because it is just as important.
The main safety ambassadors are the professional skiers. They teach and talk about the importance of carrying good equipment so that the world of safety is not a danger to us.
This key aspect is at the heart of our communication. Then during the events we talk about what we do when we ski on the mountain in terms of safety and in terms of rescue.
It is very important to have control on the mountain because it is one of the judging criteria for the judges. If you lose control you automatically go down in the ranking. All these measures are taken in terms of safety for the Freeride World Tour.
After that, the material, the equipment and all the professional infrastructure surrounding an event is the next step. The third point is the safety workshops that we are giving to World Tour skiers and some junior skiers.
The idyllic thing in all resorts that have a freeride club would be to have every weekend in December a workshop on Saturday and a workshop on Sunday. When we talk about safety and the training you have to have on the snow is the most important aspect.
Why has the Freeride World Tour become closer to the FIS? Can you give us some details about it?
Nicolas Hale Woods: The agreement and contract between the FIS and the Freeride World Tour states that the structure of the Freeride World Tour is the one that governs freeride with the FIS. If we look at the event that took place last week we can see that nothing has changed from last year.
They have the same people, the same responsibilities, the same rules and the same model. The changes happened in snowboarding and freestyle, but what people don’t often understand is that the structure of all those disciplines is very different, so only time will tell, but we are confident.
What is the next step in the FIS Freeride World Tour? What are the majour projects workshops?
Nicolas Hale Woods: The main point of collaboration is the development of the Freeride World Tour in terms of destinations, new events and marketing. Working with FIS on marketing and media is to make the Freeride World Tour bigger, stronger and better.
Then, at national level, we are engaging in a dialogue with all the national ski associations to see how we are going to collaborate, to see the different points we have in mind and the licensing of the national associations so that skiers, from juniors to elite skiers, can benefit from recognition and can have financial support with strong training facilities. This is the most important point.
In terms of organized events, there could also be some benefits from some organizations that are integrated into the calendar of national associations, and usually serve as institutional support. Then there is the marketing aspect, which may or may not materialize in the coming years, but that is an issue we also put on the table.