It takes effort to compete on the FWT. Not many of the tour’s mainstays are making enough money to technically be called a “pro.” Instead, heavy hitters spend 90 days without a shower in the B.C. backcountry, planting trees and making enough money to be able to travel around the world and compete during the winter; or college students postpone graduation so that they can spend winters out West and ski with their friends on the tour; or a summer swinging a hammer on jobsites translates into unfettered winters. And, they would agree, it’s worth it.
“We’re here as one big family in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” said Jim Jack, head judge of the FWT. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
During the tour it felt like something was missing in the athlete meetings, at the top of the venue and during the late-night party right now on the tour: Ryan Hawks and 2010 World Champion Arne Backstrom. People gravitated towards both late competitors like bugs to light. Both names were a constant topic of conversation in the Andes this year—“remember when Hawks threw that backie in Revy?” or “what would Arne do if he were here?”
Once you get a glimpse into the freeskiing family it becomes clear, athletes would give anything for a spot on the podium, but big-mountain competitive skiing on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour is about a whole lot more than a championship.