The judge has spoken
The Subaru World Freeskiing Tour recently announced its scheduled dates for this winter, which will include stops in Revelstoke, Telluride, Crested Butte, Kirkwood and Snowbird (it traveled to Argentina and Chile earlier this summer). At the Kirkwood stop in February, the Freeskiing World Tour will join forces for the first time ever with its rival European-based big-mountain comp, the Freeride World Tour. We caught up with Jim Jack, the head judge for the Freeskiing World Tour who's been involved since the tour's inception in 1990, first as a competitor and then as a judge, to talk about risk, prize money and the future of the tour.
On becoming a judge:
In 2000, I shattered my face while competing at Kirkwood. I competed for another couple of years and then felt I really wanted to get in the judges' pit so I asked. I have always been the biggest fan and have always tried to be an ambassador for the sport and the industry. It's been a solid seven seasons now and we have evolved and grown with strong attendance and registrations and an exciting new Junior Freeskiing Tour.
Our events crown the best overall skier over a series of days and multiple runs. We do not want to find ourselves rewarding or encouraging dangerous or uncalculated decisions in skiing.
On joining forces with the Freeride World Tour for the first time:
The Nissan [Freeride World] tour needed a tour stop in the United States and the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour felt it could make it a win-win by letting the Freeride World Tour athletes be pre-qualified into the main event at Kirkwood. The event will count as a stop on their tour and those athletes will earn credit for their tour. The event will operate under our IFSA format and criteria. We are still determining how each tour points will be rewarded to both tours' athletes but we feel this is a very positive union for the athletes and the progression of freeskiing events worldwide.
On the progression of skiing:
The level of competitors has changed over the past 10 years with the introduction of twin tip and rockered skis along with the progression of today's athletes bringing slope to the big-mountain scene. It's not the usual steep, extreme lines anymore, it's creative and free. The women especially have begun to push the sport and the field is consistently competitive with more women registering every year.
On prize money:
I believe we will begin to see the prize money increase over the next few years. It's based on our sponsors, the amount of promotional value they get and Subaru. The North Face and now Sierra Nevada continue to support the sport by providing the dollars year after year for the prize money. The athletes are performers and deserve to be recognized as skilled and calculated professionals.
On going global:
At this point we expect to continue events [in the U.S., Canada, Chile and Argentina] and would like to see some other potential venues. Of course I would like to see an IFSA World Tour event happen again in parts of Europe and in New Zealand.