Qualifying for the Freeride World Tour

With winter rapidly approaching, we’re all stoked for our favorite powder stashes to fill in. But I’m particularly looking forward to this season for another big reason: this year marks my debut on the Freeride World Tour (FWT).

After finishing third overall last year in the Region II series of the Freeride World Qualifier Tour, I managed to land a spot on the FWT. This was my primary goal at the start of last season, and fortunately, a lot of hard work paid off.

After qualifying, I was stoked. There are so many variables that can work against you when you’re competing—falls, injuries, judging, bad luck. I’ve been competing since I began skiing in the late ‘80s (racing, moguls, skier-X, and big mountain), but being on the FWT means I’ll finally have a shot at a lifelong goal of mine—winning a world title.

It’s been a long road to get to where I am now. After a moguls career that ended with a knee injury in ’01, I started competing freeride in ’08 while attending grad-school in Alaska. After finishing 10th on the ’09 Freeskiing World Tour, I tried to retire and began focusing solely on coaching kids. But then I realized I wasn’t ready to give the dream up.

My challenge now is balancing a full-time job with training and competing. In the off season, my job keeps me in shape with ample field work in Alaska. Back home, my employer supports me by giving me time to travel, train, and compete.

To give you a view into this competitive world, I’ve compiled some photos from the comp scene from over the past five years. While some of the venues and judging criteria have changed, the freeride emphasis on fluid, creative, technical skiing has stayed the same.

And don’t forget to read our article about the skis I intend to compete on, and how I’ve customized them for the demands of the FWT.

The FWT competitions begin December 18 at Revelstoke, B.C. and continue until March 2 when the tour wraps up at Verbier, Switzerland. (For a full list of dates, check out the website here.) And be sure to check out the FWT’s incredible live webcasts of the competition, which are a bit like watching a sick ski film, except that they’re live… 

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Summit hike at Alyeska, AK. (photo by E. Wight/MtSports.com)

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Heli lift at Telluride, CO. (photo by E. Wight/MtSports.com)

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Hike or heli, the views never disappoint. (photo by E. Wight/MtSports.com)

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And the women are also pretty badass. (photo by MtSports.com)

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North Face qualifier venue, Alyeska, AK. (photo from Alyeska Ski Patrol)

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Cliff drops are scored by style and creativity. Garrett Altmann sending it at the 2013 Crested Butte Extremes. (photo by EdCarley.com)

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Sickbird nominee Kenjiro Matsuo at Snowbird. (photo from MtSports.com)

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Line choice and flow are key for a good score. Garrett at the 2012 Taos Extreme Freeride Championships. (photo by M. Kaluta)

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And sometimes a bit of old-school hot dogging helps too. Garrett in the finals of the Subaru Freeskiing Series, Crested Butte, CO. (photo from EdCarley.com)

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Luck can work for you, or against you. Caleb Mullen at Snowbird.

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Upper Silverfox venue at Snowbird, UT. (photo from MtSports.com)

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The fans, cast, and crew at the end of an entertaining day at the mountain. El Colorado, Chile. (photo by Garrett Altmann)

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It's all about having fun. Ending up on the podium is a bonus. 2014 FWT Region II qualifiers.

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The first stop on this year's FWT—Mackenzie Peak, also known as Mac Daddy Face, Revelstoke, B.C.

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