On Thursday, the Freeride World Tour—the top big-mountain competition in the world—announced that its first event of the season will run this weekend in Hakuba, Japan.
This year’s show will be the second-ever official FWT stop at the popular Japanese powder-skiing mecca. (Last season, the Hakuba comp was canceled due to inclement weather.)
Sammy Luebke, an American snowboarder who has won the last three tours, will be defending his title this year. If he nabs the overall win, he’ll set the record for most consecutive and overall wins in the FWT’s history.
On the men’s ski side, legendary freeskier Tanner Hall has come out of retirement to compete on a wildcard entry. It’s a surprising move for a skier who has focused entirely on filming for years, and he’s the highest-profile athlete to compete on the tour since Candide Thovex won in 2010. He’ll be competing against skiers like last year’s champion, Kristofer Turdell, a 28-year-old from Sweden who has been skiing on an international level for nearly a decade.
The women’s field includes a couple of exciting rookies to watch, like American Jacqueline Pollard, who grew up in Utah and has posted impressive results on the qualifier circuit over the past few years. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka, an Olympian who took bronze in ski halfpipe at Sochi in 2014, will compete this weekend as well, marking her first official FWT competition.
A few other wildcards to note: Kye Petersen, a professional freeskier from British Columbia, and Travis Rice, a legendary Wyoming-based snowboarder, will join the stacked field of athletes.
You can watch the live webcast on the FWT website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. The elite competition begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning in Japan, so tune in at 4:30 p.m. MST on Friday to watch.
Next, the tour heads to Kicking Horse, in Golden, B.C. See below for a complete list of venues and dates:
Kicking Horse, Golden B.C.