This is my 10th season(including southern hemisphere) competing in freeride competitions although I’m just 21 years old. 4 out of those seasons I competed in FWQ Events. Since I’m 15 years old my main goal was to compete in the FWT. I had a really tough time until I finally made it happen with my victory in Obergurgl last season. Finally I would be able to compete with the best freeriders in the world on the sickest faces and show what I can do on skis. The FWT was supposed to be the highlight of my career with lots of fun and good vibes. Once I arrived at the first stop in Chamonix I didn’t really understand why it didn’t make me as happy as I imagined. I thought maybe it’s because we are waiting around a lot or maybe there are just too many meetings and things going on all the time. Maybe it was also a result of getting pushed too much into the Freeride World Tour because at some point I didn’t do it for myself anymore and just wanted to please other people and sponsors by skiing it. As soon as they moved the event to a smaller face in Chamonix because of the snow conditions I was really disappointed but I thought that’s just the way it goes and told myself to just find a fun line and hope for the next event. As this situation kept on going I knew that I had to make a decision. So I decided to quit the tour for now. Of course I could have skied those faces like everyone else did and hope to qualify for the real shit in Alaska and Verbier but somehow I just didn’t feel it anymore.
The tour claims to have the best riders on the best mountains in the world but that’s not entirely true. Even with good conditions and a perfect season we are far away from skiing the best possible faces in the world. Somehow I have the feeling that it’s all about the money lately. The most important thing for an event is to find a resort that pays enough and then they think about the possible options nearby the resort. It can’t be too far out in the backcountry since there will be less spectators which means there will be less money involved. Just that simple fact does not allow us to use the whole potential. Of course money is important, especially in our industry but I think it’s not right to make it the most important factor and built everything around it.
And yes, with athletes like us it’s possible to have competitions on almost every thinkable mountains. The size and the line options don’t really matter. There will always be a show, there are always people who want to watch and there will be guys who switch to sending mode or search features for a good score which they would not even think of doing on a proper face. I’m not saying that this is necessarily wrong but for me it’s not the right way of doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the FWT should rather cancel the events instead of moving to bad alternative faces. In my eyes they are doing a really good job for how the FWT is set up right now and try really hard to make it happen. Nicolas, Berti and the rest of the crew put everything they’ve got into the tour and our sport. It’s not their fault, they just have to do certain things for certain reasons. I think sometimes it’s probably better to have a comp on a bad face instead of having no event but maybe it’s also time to think about a different format because this one is not working too good. Alaska is a really great step into this direction but seriously, 14 days of travelling, waiting and so on for just one run? One option could be to have longer time frames and go for more than one competition in a region with less stops in total. But I guess that’s not my business, haha. Up to now we’ve always been in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no room for flexibility. Fieberbrunn suggested to postpone the event in advance since the conditions didn’t seem to be good enough. Well this didn’t happen and we almost had to ski down a really bad and sharky face on Marokker.
Back then I was already thinking of quitting the tour or at least this stop but I didn’t have the guts to do it. Mainly because it’s important for my sponsors and many other people. So I just followed the herd like everybody else did. Later in Andorra I couldn’t believe what they were telling us at the riders meeting: “Guys, to be honest we didn’t even consider this face two hours ago but unfortunately we have no other option and we are not able to wait out the waiting period.” Is this what we are all living for and put in a lot of energy? I at least don’t want to be told what I have to ski, especially if it’s the qualification face for a FWQ event. And I’m not talking about the snow conditions, I don’t really care if it’s hard pack or powder. A 250 height meter face is just disappointing in a FWT comp.
Life and especially skiing is all about being happy and doing the stuff you want to do. I know that I will probably loose a good amount of money with my decision but this time I just had to follow my feelings and do the right thing. This was hands down one of the hardest decisions in my whole life. I can tell you that. Media, sponsors, people etc. told me that competing is more or less the only way to make myself a name for now. I never really saw a chance to stop competing for a while and still work my way up in the ranks as a skier. Fortunately I always knew that competing won’t be my long term solution so I used every single minute in-between to go filming and realized different projects which also pushed me as an athlete. So I know that it’s working and we’ll see how it turns out.
I still think that the Freeride World Tour is really important for our sport and I absolutely have no intention of telling people not to ski it. Right now it’s just not the place to be for me and that’s it. I’m sure that I will try to come back to the tour one day and show you guys some good skiing. Until then I will explore and ski my own mountains and keep up the stoke for what I do. I can tell you already that there will be some cool projects coming up in the near future : -)