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The Judge’s Perspective: Making The Call

The Judge’s Perspective: Making The Call

[ January 25, 2010 - 11:01am ]
Nicolas Hale Woods
Due to heavy snow and high winds, the Freeride World Tour stop in Russia has been canceled and moved to Chamonix, France. Judge Tom Winter checks in from Krasnaya Polyana.

When a fast moving storm that dropped heavy snowfall and high winds, Nicolas Hale-Woods, head of the Nissan Freeride World Tour, was forced to cancel the Freeride World Tour stop here in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. The Chamonix stop of the FWT is scheduled for Saturday, January 30th, and they will reschedule and relocate the Russian stop to take place the next possible day in Chamonix using the start list established in Sochi. 

Due to the weather, most of those here in Krasnaya Polyana are watching the Hannenkahm downhill on Eurosport TV right now. As that event unfolds under sunny skies in Kitzbühel it’s hard not to draw some parallels with World Cup ski racing and the Freeride World Tour. I’ve already talked about how the athletes at the Nissan Russian Adventure are the best in the world in this discipline of skiing, it’s the same at the Hannenkahm. But what most people don’t see is the level of organization that goes on behind the scenes to make an event like the Nissan Russian Adventure or the Hannenkahm happen.

This organization includes the mundane, like the regular athlete shuttles to the ski lifts from the hotel and free drink coupons at the 360 Bar at the base of the lift. It features a full fledged media outreach effort, which includes every athlete being interviewed on video for the Nissan Freeride World Tour’s website, interviews that are also available to any media outlet free of charge. The sponsorship support is also impeccable, with Swatch and Nissan logos everywhere, and there’s a crack team of French mountain guides on site to assist their Russian counterparts with avalanche safety as well as first aid and rescue services should an accident happen.

The latter brings us to the issue of safety. Just like the Hannenkahm, where crashes can be devastating, the risk of competing in the FWT would be unacceptable if not mitigated by true experts. This mitigation includes doctors and helicopters on hand for evacuation to a medical facility in case of a serious injury. But all the mitigation in the world won’t help you if you make a bad call to hold an event in flat light, bad weather or ugly snow conditions. Which is why the most professional, best-organized events in the world, from World Cup ski racing to the Nissan Freeride World Tour need to have someone to make the call. That person today was Nicolas Hale-Woods, the organizer of the event.

Check out Tom's last update from Russia, about how the best cure for jet lag is powder skiing.


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