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Big Mountain Skiers

The Winter Begins: Freeride World Tour Kicks Off in Hakuba, Japan

Hot on the heels of the equal-pay announcement, FWT20 readies itself for the first event of the season in the Japanese Alps.

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The 2020 Freeride World Tour hasn’t even started yet, but there is already a ton of buzz for the Tour this year as they announced this week that equal prize money will be awarded to both male and female competitors. The move for equal pay marks the FWT’s first step towards a commitment to gender equality in freeride skiing and snowboarding, one they hope will keep inspiring the next generation of freeride skiers to keep skiing and competing.

“This is a major step forward to elevate women’s freeride skiing and snowboarding, and is simply the right and only thing to do for the FWT,” FWT CEO Nicolas Hale-Woods shared on the FWT website

In addition, the FWT will be organizing skiing and riding sessions with professional female athletes at the FWT stops in British Columbia, Andorra, and Austria this season. Get more info and register for these events open to the public on the FWT website

What to Expect at FWT20 Hakuba

FWT Insider: Hakuba, Japan Ep. 2

The FWT20 season is set to kick off this week in the Japanese Alps. Despite a lower-than-average snowpack, there is more than enough coverage to guarantee some incredible skiing. 

Enhanced Broadcast Format

The entire FWT20 Hakuba event will take place Sunday, January 19. All results from the event will be published 40 hours after the award ceremony. 

An official statement from the FWT about the enhanced broadcast: “We’re thrilled to announce a new, kick-ass condensed competition broadcast for Hakuba, Japan and Kicking Horse, Golden, B.C. events. We want to provide you with the best possible show without any weather delays, condensed with additional angles and interviews, streamed at an ideal time for all time-zones. The broadcast will therefore be streamed after the competition has taken place, and we will keep results confidential to build maximum excitement.”

Get more info on what to expect for this event on the Freeride World Tour’s Hakuba Event Page

Tom Peiffer spins a 360 in Hakuba Japan
Canadian Tom Peiffer flew high in Hakuba during the FWT19 stop.Photo courtesy of FWT/ J. Bernard

On the men’s ski side, there is no shortage of talent. In the past, the venues have featured plenty of pillow drops and natural jumps, making them favorable for skiers with more freestyle-oriented styles. Look out for Craig Murray (NZL), Tom Peiffer (CAN), and Tanner Hall (USA) in particular. Also, FWT20 Wild Card Tim Durtschi (USA) has a style that really might shake things up in Hakuba.

Not to be counted out, Kristofer Turdell (SWE) is likely hungry to get to the top of the overall leaderboard as quickly as possible this season, and Carl Renvall (SUI) is back on the FWT and can make a big first impression in Hakuba.

Carl Renvall Returns to FWT20

On the women’s ski side, it’s likely to be a battle between two-time reigning FWT Overall Champion Arianna Tricomi (ITA) and former World Cup mogul competitor Hedvig Wessel (NOR). Tricomi has been mastering her spin tricks in natural terrain, while Wessel can stomp bigger backflips than many of the male competitors. We expect the two to show off their skills early and often throughout the season, but Hakuba is the ideal venue for both skiers’ styles.

Maude Besse mid-run at FWT19 Hakuba
Maude Besse on her way to second place during FWT 19 in Hakuba.Photo courtesy of FWT / J. Bernard

Other female skiers to watch for as potential podium contenders in Japan include Maude Besse (SUI) and Jacqueline Pollard (USA). After a second-place finish in Hakuba last year, Besse’s season ended early due to injury, meaning she’ll be hungry to get back to the top of the leaderboard. Pollard finished her rookie year strong at the end of FWT19 and has been refining her freestyle techniques already this season, which could make for a very promising run in Hakuba.

FWT Insider: Hakuba Ep. 1