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International Ski Federation acquires Freeride World Tour for 2022-23 season

FWT will continue running the tour’s daily operations

Ryan Sederquist
Vail Daily
Jack Nichols sends it at the Verbier Freeride World Tour Final on March 26, 2022.
Jeremy Bernard/Courtesy photo

VAIL — The International Ski Federation has acquired the Freeride World Tour.

“The two organizations will join forces already for the 2022-23 season,” stated a FIS press release from earlier this month.

“By acquiring the FWT, FIS will further unite all the disciplines in skiing and snowboarding, giving them more strength and power to develop on the global stage.”



FIS, the governing body for international skiing and snowboarding, manages the Olympic disciplines of Alpine, cross-country and freestyle skiing, as well as ski jumping, Nordic combined and snowboarding. The FWT is the global circuit of freeride snowboarding and skiing and features the world’s best riders “competing on the most challenging Alpine faces across iconic ski resorts.”

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with FIS,” stated Nicolas Hale-Woods, FWT CEO.




“For our freeride athletes and event organizers, being under the umbrella of the largest winter sports international federation, recognized by the International Olympic Committee, will give them more access to support, increased visibility and additional resources that will ultimately allow the FWT and all of its stakeholders to grow.”

FWT will continue running the tour’s daily operations, “remaining committed to its core values of safety performance, responsibility, inclusivity and fun.” Vail athletes Jack and Kevin Nichols are pleased the format, venues and judges are staying the same, as far as they’ve heard.

“From what we understand and we’re hearing is it’s not going to change anything,” Jack, who finished sixth in the overall standings last season, said on Thursday. “I think it’s an awesome sport, I think it’s a really cool culture, really cool vibe and an all-around great community and I hope that stays the same.”

“It just kind of comes with the territory and I think you’ve seen it with park skiing and halfpipe riding,” Kevin added. “Things grow and grow and really what the FIS acquisition is is like international recognition. So, in a lot of aspects, it’s like, OK, the world’s kind of looking at us like, this is legit. This is high performance — the best in the world.”

FIS council member Dean Gosper was appointed executive chairman of FWT and will work closely with Hale-Woods to continue growing the sport.

“We look forward to working with the entire FWT to ensure the development of the sport on a global scale as FIS has done with so many of the youth-oriented events of snowboard, freestyle and freeski,” he said in the release.

The FWT, founded in 1996 with the Xtreme Verbier events, currently has full-circuit competitions in Europe, North and South America and Oceania, as well as three development tiers (Challenger, Qualifier and Junior). The sport has experienced massive growth in the past few years; FWT currently includes more than 6,000 licensed athletes across all levels.

Reine Barkered, a 14-year FWT veteran and the 2012 world champion, said, “Being a part of FWT and seeing the sport develop over so many years makes this feel like a natural next step to take. It will be interesting to see where it leads us.”

“Integrating FWT will see FIS add one of the most exciting, dynamic winter sports competition formats to its portfolio,” FIS President Johan Eliasch said in the release.

“This is truly a win-win for all parties as FIS can bring massive growth potential to the FWT providing the chance to develop on a broader stage. FWT brings a highly professional tour that offers breathtaking action and an entirely new element of skiing and snowboarding to FIS.”

As Salt Lake City increases its odds for hosting an Olympics in either 2030 or 2034, it’s worth pondering whether the FIS acquisition improves the sport’s chances of being added to the Games’ program.

“I think it’s possible that they want to move into the Olympics. I think that’s where they could go with it,” Jack said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they head in that direction,” Kevin added. “We don’t know. Even if they don’t … just the awareness of FIS brings some recognition to what the tour is, whose on it and how high the level of riding is.”

The FWT season begins in Baqueira Beret, Spain, from Jan. 28-Feb. 2.

rsederquist@vaildaily.com

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