LAUSANNE, SUI – March 14, 2014 – Following a challenging season due to difficult snow and weather conditions all over the northern hemisphere, the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face now heads to Verbier, Switzerland, for the Grande Finale at the Swatch Xtreme March 22, 2014. On the prolific north face of the Bec des Rosses, riders will push their boundaries in the battle for the 2014 world titles. With some new names at this level of competition, the show promises to be very exciting to watch. Fans around the world will be able to follow the action live on www.freerideworldtour.com. The event webcast is scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM CET on the day of competition.
"We are at the end of a tough season in terms of snow conditions. Some of the 'big names' have not qualified for Verbier, but riders from the Freeride World Qualifier who competed on the FWT for the first time this season will be there, so we are very happy and enthusiastic to go back to Switzerland for the finals of the tour and the 19th anniversary of the Xtreme Verbier," said Nicolas Hale-Woods, FWT General Manager Europe.
Only the highest ranked 12 male skiers, five male snowboarders, five female skiers and four female snowboarders on the 2014 FWT overall rankings have qualified for the finals on the dauntingly steep and frighteningly jagged 500-metre rock face of the Bec des Rosses. Tension is rising over who will take home the four Freeride World Champion titles. The titles will be awarded using the four best results of the 2014 FWT season, including Verbier, for male skiers and snowboarders, and the best three results, including Verbier, for female skiers and snowboarders.
In each of the four categories, there are still several riders who have the chance to become world champion. Contenders amongst the male skiers include overall leader Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA), second-placed Sam Smoothy (NZL), third-ranked Jérémie Heitz (SUI), and fourth, Lars Chickering-Ayers (USA). For the male snowboarders, it's a tight race between Valais local Emilien Badoux (SUI) in first, Sammy Luebke (USA) in second, and Jamie Rizzuto (CAN) in third. Reigning champion Nadine Wallner (AUT) leads the female skiers field only by a few points ahead of her compatriot Lorraine Huber (AUT), with Matilda Rapaport (SWE) on third place also having a small chance for the title if she wins and Wallner is not top three and Huber is not second. With two victories in her bag, Shannan Yates (USA) will win the women's snowboarding category if she makes the top three, while Verbier local Estelle Balet (SUI) can only win the title if she wins and Yates doesn't reach the top three.
Some exciting wild cards will add spice to the competition, including 2013 Xtreme winner Kevin Guri (FRA), two-time FWT champion and three-time Xtreme winner Aurélien Ducroz (FRA), and Swiss almost local Samuel Anthamatten in the men's ski division. As well as 2013 FWT champ and Xtreme winner Ralph Backstrom (USA), three-time FWT champion and four-time Xtreme winner Xavier de le Rue (FRA), 2012 FWT champ and Xtreme winner Jonathan Charlet (FRA), and five-time Xtreme Verbier winner Steve Klassen (USA) in the men's snowboarding. In the female ski category, 2012 FWT champion and Xtreme winner Christine Hargin (NOR) will get the chance to ski the "Bec", while in the women snowboarders', Anouck Mouthon (FRA) will additionally enter the competition.
For more information on the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face and Freeride World Qualifier events, please visit FreerideWorldTour.com.
Swatch, launched in 1983 by Nicolas G. Hayek, is a leading Swiss watchmaker and one of the world's most popular brands. The first Swatch watches surprised everyone with their revolutionary concept, creative design and provocative spirit. Today Swatch continues to innovate and surprise with new models, collections and special editions. The brand maintains a strong presence in the world of sports with its commitment to snowboarding, freeskiing, surfing, FMX and ice cross downhill. Right from the start, Swatch connected with art and artists, and Swatch watches remain a prominent canvas for artists from a broad range of disciplines. Swatch.com
THE NORTH FACE®
The North Face®, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers, and major outdoor specialty retail chains. For more information, go to TheNorthFace.com.
FWT Management SA, based in Lutry/Lausanne-Switzerland, is organizing world-class sports events in mountain resorts and regions since 1996. Founder of "Xtreme Verbier" – iconic event in freeride skiing & snowboarding –, FWT Management SA has taken the stand-alone Xtreme Verbier event to create Freeride World Tour, Freeride World Qualifier, Junior Freeride Tour, and a Freeride Skiing Team Competition (Swatch Skiers Cup) with events in Europe, North America, South America and Oceania. FreerideWorldTour.com
MOUNTAIN SPORTS INTERNATIONAL
Mountain Sports International (MSI) is a private company, founded in 1997, to develop and produce action/adventure sports events and programming in North America. MSI founded the Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face® Masters, The North Face® Park and Pipe Open Series, as well as several other properties and concepts. MSI launched MSI Live in 2009, to provide live HD webcast production, content management, encoding, and satellite uplink & delivery. MSI provides event management services, infrastructure and expertise for high-end brands, including The North Face®, Burton, Red Bull, Subaru, UFC, and Sierra Nevada. MSI specializes in matching clients with events for brand penetration into target demographics, developing product identification and loyalty. MSI matches brand and culture, company and credibility, to create sought-after events that help to define the action sports culture. MtSports.com