18 February, 2008: The North Face®, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, today announced its presentation of the Freeride de Tignes, the fourth stop on the inaugural Freeride World Tour. Open to qualified snowboarders and skiers, the competition will take place on the famously rugged slopes surrounding Tignes, France between 8-13 March, 2008.
Designed to take the renowned Verbier Xtreme freeride competition to the next level, the premier Freeride World Tour consists of five competition events across North America, Eastern and Western Europe, and offers the biggest prize purse in the history of the sport. Already in the Tour, The North Face® has sponsored the Nissan Mammoth Challenge on 22-26 January in Mammoth, California; and the Nissan Russian Adventure on 31 January-5 February in Sochi, Russia. The contest in Tignes is predicted by many to be the most exciting of the Tour, and is set within one of the planet’s most expansive ski domains: the vast and formidable Espace Killy.
Each of the forty-four athletes competing at Tignes will have just one chance to prove their mettle to the judges. From the top of a cable car, athletes will hike for 45 minutes to reach the 2,882-metre Grande Balme. Each snowboarder and skier will be allowed one run down the 40-45-degree pitch, with 500 metres of vertical descent and countless lips, jumps, cliff bands and gullies. Judging is based on three criteria: choice of line, control and fluidity. Steepness, exposure, snow conditions, difficulty of the terrain, obstacles, jumps, control, falls, continuity, pace, smooth transitions, style, technical ability and energy—all of these elements will also be taken into account.
A different three-member jury judges each section of the Freeride World Tour for each discipline. Each judge is trained and certified by the Professional Freerider Board (PFB). Veteran freerider and The North Face® athlete, Eric Themel, is serving as contest director for the Freeride Qualifying Tour event taking place in Montafon, Austria on 9-14 February, 2008. The 31-year old Austrian is one of the world’s most accomplished freeride athletes and took first place last year at the 2007 Red Bull Tribal Quest. In his role as contest director, Eric combed his native terrain to find the perfect location for hosting a big mountain event with great viewing for spectators: Hochjoch Mountain in the Montafon Valley. The top two male and female riders and skiers of the Montafon qualifying event will be given the chance to compete in the Freeride de Tignes.
The line-up in Tignes consists of the best-ranked riders of each discipline (14 men and four women) after the three previous contests of the Tour: the Nissan Mammoth Challenge, the Nissan Russian Adventure and the Swatch-O’Neill Big Mountain Pro.