The 2022 FWT kicks off this month in Spain. Here’s who we’re rooting for.
The Freeride World Tour has been going strong for 14 years now, bringing together top big-mountain skiers and snowboarders from around the world for head-to-head contests on some of the steepest mountain faces from Europe to North America to Japan. This year, the tour kicks off with a brand new location in Baqueira Beret, a ski resort in the Pyrenees in Spain. The weather window for that first event of the tour is from January 22-28.
After that, it’s back to Ordino Arcalis, in Andorra, from January 30 through February 5. The only North American stop of the tour comes third, with a visit to Kicking Horse, British Columbia from February 12-17. In a new qualification system, the top-ranked athletes from those first three stops will need to qualify for the final two FWT stops, in Fieberbrunn, Austria, from March 15-20, and lastly, in Verbier, Switzerland, from March 26 through April 3. All the events can be streamed live online or you can watch replays after the fact.
There are a few Flylow athletes who will be competing on this year’s tour and we couldn’t be more proud of these homegrown athletes making names for themselves on the global stage. Here’s a rundown of who we’ll be rooting for.
Named Rookie of the Year last year, skier Ross Tester ended his debut season on the FWT in second place overall. He was leading the tour’s rankings heading into the final stop in Verbier, after winning the 2021 stops in Ordino-Arcalis and Fieberbrunn. “I went into the competition with no expectations except to have fun with it and I was surprised to have it all work out,” Tester said last year. Tester, 22, grew up skiing in Tahoe and now lives in Salt Lake City, where he started a freeride club at the University of Utah. Look for him to be a top contender in the men’s ski division this year.
Jack Nichols had his first year on the Freeride World Tour back in 2020, finishing 15th in the overall rankings. Last year, he was back on the Freeride World Qualifier series, where he nabbed the top spot and earned himself a coveted position back on the FWT for 2022. He’ll be competing alongside his younger brother, Kevin, also a Flylow athlete. The Nichols brothers grew up skiing in Vail, Colorado, and Jack started competing in big-mountain contests when he was 13. “Through competing I’ve been introduced to some amazing places and incredible people,” Jack has said. Jack, 25, now lives in Bozeman, Montana, where he skis Bridger Bowl and spends his free time flying airplanes.
The youngest of the three Vail-raised Nichols brothers, Kevin Nichols, 23, will be making his mark this year back on the Freeride World Tour. In 2020, he took 13th overall on the tour, a promising rookie season, but then in November 2020, Kevin was diagnosed with epilepsy after a series of seizures. A rare allergic reaction to the medication just before he was supposed to depart for the 2021 FWT season meant he couldn’t travel internationally. Kevin started competing in the Junior Freesking Tour when he was just nine years old and hasn’t looked back since. Now a student at Montana State University studying secondary education, Kevin says it was his childhood dream to be an international competitive freeskier. Looks like he’s well on his way to that.
Canadian snowboarder Mathieu Martineau, 32, is no stranger to big-mountain competitions—he’s been competing for years now—but this will be his first year on the grand stage of the Freeride World Tour. Originally from Quebec, Martineau has lived in British Columbia for the last decade, living and traveling out of his converted box truck. Look for him to shine when the FWT comes to Kicking Horse and Mathieu has home-turf advantage. “I’m now really enjoying the mental aspect of puzzling my way through a natural venue,” Martineau has said. “Also, competing freeride pushes me to be healthier, train harder, and make better decisions.” Rookie Video