The Next Crop of FWT Skiers

The top skiers from the qualifiers lock in their spots on the 2015 Freeride World Tour

George Rodney, 21, is the next young rider to watch for in the 2015 FWT. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/Freeride World Qualifier

George Rodney, 21, is the next young rider to watch for in the 2015 FWT. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/Freeride World Qualifier

Lausanne, Switzerland – April 23, 2014: After a grueling season spanning 43 ski resorts worldwide, the 2014 Freeride World Qualifier tour is over. After the final event of the year in Big Sky, Montana, 16 riders from the four disciplines secured spots on the 2015 Freeride World Tour.

Rider ranking on the FWQ is broken into two regions—Region 1 draws athletes from Europe, Asia, and Oceania, while Region 2 encompasses North and South America. This year the top three ski men, two snowboard men, two ski women, and one snowboard woman from each region are advancing to FWT 2015, which makes for six fewer spots than last year.

Follow POWDER’s coverage of the Freeride World Tour for more stories about athletes and events.

Region 1

A record 36 events took place in Region 1 this season, offering riders more chances than ever to gain experience, travel, and build their ranking. For ski women, Lotten Rapp (SWE) took the overall victory, followed by Silvia Moser (ITA) who will be the first female Italian FWT rider since Giulia Monego.

For ski men, Léo Slemett (FRA) took a well-deserved tour victory, capped with a win at the 4-star event in Nendaz, Switzerland. Slemett originally qualified for the FWT when he came in third at the 2012 FWQ, but he lost his FWT spot after one year. "I took my FWT experience back to the FWQ and that really helped me progress,” says Slemett. “The level on the qualifier tour is really impressive. The riders give 100 percent because they have nothing to lose."

Slemett was closely followed by Fabian Lentsch (AUT), whose insane winning run at the event in Obergurgl quickly went viral online. Jordan Bricheux (FRA) took the third and final spot.

Region 2

Difficult conditions in the Americas saw a handful of cancelled events, making the seven remaining events especially intense for Region 2 competitors.

Ski Women champion Hazel Birnbaum (USA) started her winning campaign back in August when she won the first 4-star event of the year at El Colorado, Chile. Ashley Maxfield (USA) took second, regaining her spot on the FWT after losing it in 2013.

Kyle Taylor won Ski Men, capping off a hard-fought season featuring a victory at the 4-star Crested Butte, USA event and second place at the finale in Big Sky. Juan Bergada (ARG) will join fellow Argentine skier Nicolas Salencon on next year's tour, and 21-year-old George Rodney (USA) rounded out the qualified men. Rodney will be one of the youngest riders on next year's FWT.

The 2015 Freeride World Tour is coming to North America once for a mens-only event in Alaska. What does that say about the tour’s future?