It was announced this week that the first stop of the upcoming Subaru Freeskiing World Tour will be in Las Leñas, Argentina, from August 9 to 12. This is the third year the FWT will visit Argentina, but it's the first time the contest will join forces with Red Bull for a two-day, invite-only event called The Red Bull Powder Disorder.
All of last year's stops of the tour were open to online registration and included a traditional qualifier day for those who registered online. None were invite only.
The athlete field will be limited to top-placing competitors from the 2011 FWT, as well as athletes invited by Red Bull. Twenty-four men from the FWT are prequalified for Argentina, including Drew Tabke, Lars Chickering-Ayers, Chopo Diaz, Drew Stoecklein, Mathieu Imbert and others. There are 14 women on the invite list, including top-ranked Angel Collinson, Crystal Wright, Ashley Maxfield, Nicole Derksen, Rebecca Selig and more.
The invited Red Bull athletes haven't been announced yet, but Red Bull's freeskiing team is made up of a diverse crew including Henrik Windstedt, Sean Pettit, Grete Eliassen and many others.
"The world's most talented freeskiers [will] show up to compete on the biggest, most challenging venues in the southern hemisphere," says Brian Barlow, competition director for the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour. "Red Bull will be a great partner to help us kick off this season, as they're known for taking things to the next level."
The FWT athletes seem excited for the revamped setup. "It is a rare opportunity for us to ski with our mentors and compare ourselves to the people we idolize," says Angel Collinson, last year's FWT overall champion. "It's going to be really inspiring for all of us to try some new things and step it up a notch."
"I always liked the idea of mixing tours as they did at Kirkwood last year," says Chopo Diaz, winner of the 2010 Argentinian Freeskiing Championships. "Las Leñas is an awesome mountain with very long venues and very good snow. Las Leñas always [offers] tons of possibilities for people to throw down."
The Red Bull Powder Disorder will be judged based on the FWT judging format, which includes points awarded toward line, control, fluidity, technique and style. This year, two mandatory air features may be built on the venue in addition to the natural terrain features.
"Tricks and style are becoming more and more prevalent everyday," says Connery Lundin, one of the invited FWT athletes. "A competition like Red Bull Powder Disorder will set the tone for future events and push the sport as a whole."