A New Generation of Pure Freeriders Heads to Andorra
The sport of Freeride has mainly been recruiting riders from other snowsport disciplines such as alpine and freestyle. Rare were those who didn't have a background competing in another discipline prior to their involvement in a freeride competition. For many skiers and snowboarders, freeride has always been part of their lives, an appealing play-day status when they weren't training - or when their event was cancelled due to snowfall or weather concerns. When freeride competitions started to become a reality with a professionally organized structure, taking the next step to compete at a competitive level was an obvious way for the most passionate athletes. Most pro freeriders today travel around on their own without coaches, but this might be about to change.
With the popularity of this beautiful sport constantly growing, clubs have evolved organically around the world, and children can get coaching in mountain safety, reading the faces and in technical freeriding riding skills. A whole circuit of junior competitions is organized in North America and another one in Europe, featuring children who are purebred freeriders.
Luke Smith (SUI) who is one of the top European riders in men's skiing, looks forward to an exciting competition: “I am very excited to be a part of this competition, it is a wonderful opportunity and looks like it is going to be a lot of fun. A lot of very talented riders are going to be competing this year, which will definitely make for a tense, exciting, but certainly nerve racking competition. I am really looking forward to it.”
The competition face was revealed around New Year so riders have had the chance add to the initial excitement. Luke's reaction: “From the looks of things, the competition face looks amazing, very steep at some points, large, and with lots of features, so I expect that every rider is going to ski it in their own unique way because there are so many options.”
Haley Cooke (CAN) is equally excited to be making the long trip from the Kootenays to the Pyrenees and represent her country in women's skiing: “I'm super stoked to have been invited to compete in the FJWC. My brother, Trace Cooke, will be competing in the FWQ in Europe and we’re planning to meet up so he can help coach me. I’ve only been to Europe once. I’m incredibly honored to be one of 5 Canadiens invited, and I'm excited to show off what growing up in the Kootenays with a beautiful, unique mountain in my back yard has taught me.”
Seth Klein (USA) arrives pumped after having received the award for TGR Grom video at the end of last season with some very impressive footage that has opened doors for him allowing him to put full focus on skiing: “This season has been incredible so far. I’ve been given many new opportunities such as having all winter off to focus on skiing, filming with TGR, and being invited to compete in the FJWC. I’m feeling ready, stoked to see what Grandvalira has in store.” For Seth, the trip will be his first to Europe.
Watch the event live on www.freerideworldtour.com on Saturday, February 7 (weather permitted – check final event schedule and program online)
Photos: © Tim Lloyd