Freeride World Tour: Coming to Squaw Valley's Tram Face This Weekend?

The Freeride World Tour, a European-based big-mountain competition, will make its only visit to the U.S this weekend when it comes to Squaw Valley, California. The competition is slated to take place on Sunday on the legendary Tram Face, a permanently closed venue filled with rocky cliffs and steep chutes. We spoke to Squaw locals and FWT competitors Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad about what to expect this weekend.
Tram Face

Last year, when the Freeride World Tour visited Squaw Valley plans to hold the big-mountain competition on the Tram Face, a foreboding peak that's permanently closed to skiers, were changed due to poor snow conditions. Instead, the competition was held on Silverado, a steep, rocky face on the backside of the mountain. This year, the competition's organizers hope to bring the event back to the Tram Face. Originally scheduled for Saturday, it was announced at the athlete meeting held Friday night at Squaw that the competition will take place on Sunday, when the weather is supposed to clear.

The venue for Sunday's competition will be announced at 5 p.m. on Saturday. If conditions are right, it will take place on Tram Face. If they're not, it'll likely be back on Silverado. If it is on Silverado, organizers say they will try to do a second day of competition later in the week on Tram Face or another venue. We called Squaw locals and Freeride World Tour comeptitors Elyse Saugstad, who won the women's ski division of this event last year, and Cody Townsend to find out what their goals are for this weekend.

"For me, it's Tram Face or bust," says Cody, who drew the 15th starting position in tonight's bib draw. "I have a couple lines picked out. It’ll come down to the conditions and where I feel like skiing that day."

Cody skied the Tram Face once before while filming a segment with Matchstick Productions. Here's how he described the venue: "The number one thing: When you get to the top, you can’t see anything. Your first air—whether it’s 10 feet or 50 feet—will feel like a 300-footer. It’s fully blind. And it's intimidating and steep."

As for last year's champ, Elyse? "I feel like Tram Face is pretty much optimal right now," she says. "With the latest snowfall, it should be good. My goal is to throw down a line and represent..and win—it'd be nice to repeat last year."

Earlier this week, Squaw local and pro freeskier C.R. Johnson—a former X Games competitor—passed away after hitting a rock at Squaw Valley. The Squaw locals competiting this weekend—Elyse, Cody, as well as Tim Dutton, JT Holmes, and Jackie Passo—will all be skiing with C.R. in mind. "I truthfully think that we'll go out there and ski and represent our friend," says Elyse.


Tram Face Comp

Freeride World Tour: Final Results at Squaw Valley

It was a dramatic few days at Squaw Valley, but the big-mountain competition took place Tuesday on Silverado. The men's ski winner was Sweden's Henrik Windsted; the women's ski winner was Jackie Paaso, a Squaw local who got a wild card to compete at the event. Here are final results and videos of the winning lines.

Bec de Rosses

Freeride World Tour: Racer Julia Mancuso is Competing in the Verbier Xtreme

As if two Olympic silver medals wasn't enough, ski racer Julia Mancuso has decided to take on the Verbier Xtreme this weekend, the final stop on this year's Freeride World Tour. The venue for the big-mountain competition is the Bec de Rosses, a massive face filled with rocky cliff bands and no-fall zones. Find out why Julia is taking on the challenge.

Crested Butte's North Face

Anatomy: Crested Butte's North Face

Don’t be fooled by the T-bar that accesses this terrain: This is no bunny slope. The North Face, a massive back bowl that slants as much as 50 degrees, is the site of big-mountain competitions and gladed, fluff-filled stashes. If it’s a powder day, get here quickly.


Freeride World Tour: Nissan Tram Face Wrap-Up

The Freeride World Tour finished its second stop in Squaw this week, giving Aurélien Ducroz of France every reason to gloat about his big mountain win and competitors reasons to come back next year to tackle the mythical tram face.