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The Judge’s Perspective: What’s Next

The Judge’s Perspective: What’s Next

[ March 1, 2010 - 11:08am ]
The future looks bright for the Nissan Freeride World Tour.
After an aborted attempt to run the Freeride World Tour big-mountain competition on Squaw Valley's Tram Face on Sunday, blue skies and untouched snow mean the competitors are heading to Silverado today. Judge Tom Winter predicts we'll see the future of the sport emerge: park tricks mixed with big-mountain terrain from skiers like Candide Thovex.

After yesterday’s very correct decision to hold off on the Tram Face venue here at the third stop of the Nissan Freeride World Tour at Squaw Valley, everyone is pumped to see the athletes do their thing. Given that today is dawning with clear skies and no wind, it looks as though we’re going to see the volume cranked up and the event shift out of standby mode.

Of course, Tram Face would have been nice, but given the mix of forces that Mother Nature threw at the venue: frozen landings and chunky debris at the bottom, ice in the middle and rapidly warming, avalanche-prone snow at the top, event organizers made the right decision to move the event to Silverado. It’s a decision that is, obviously, in the best interests for everyone, particularly the athletes. And it’s a decision that came as no surprise as event organizers are obsessively focused on safety. It’s also a decision that holds interesting implications for today’s event.

Some of the benefits are obvious. Silverado has been closed to the public for the last two days. Here it should be noted that this is due to the close relationship the tour has with Squaw, as well as Squaw’s commitment to hosting a world-class event. The last two days were a crowded weekend, two days where most resorts would be itching to open every last inch of available terrain for the paying customers. The fact that Squaw preserved the Silverado venue means that today we should be witness to some amazing skiing and riding, due to the pristine conditions on the venue.

In addition to the bliss of an untracked, unsullied venue, Silverado also holds promise for another, more important reason, a reason that has implications for the sport as we look toward the next decade. More playful and less technical than the Tram Face, Silverado naturally lends itself to the fusion of park/pipe skiing and big-mountain skiing. Many pundits, including myself, have often commented that this is where the sport is headed and that taking the flipping, spinning tricks out of their cloistered in-bounds setting to the cliffs and natural hits of the big-mountain environment holds the most promise for the progression of our sport. So, if you are a fan of the cutting edge, the future and what’s next, Silverado is probably the venue for you. Throw into the mix skiers like Candide Thovex, who made his reputation in the park but now skis on the Nissan Freeride World Tour, and you’re about to get a big fat steaming helping of Next. This is the future, it’s here and it’s happening today at Squaw.

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