Here’s a quick update to summarize yet another 3-month adventure on the Freeride World Tour 2015!
If you’re new to these pages, let me just summarize by saying that I’m Head of Video and broadcast on the FWT since 2009. The interest in freeriding has grown steadily over the years, and so has the Freeride World Tour and the video productions that we deliver to fans and TVs around the world.
And if you’re new to freeriding, a few pictures speak a thousand words:
Photo credit: Freeride World Tour
(and a big shout out to the talented photographers capturing these spectacular photos!)
Since 2013 we bring live coverage to every competition.
That last sentence alone implies a monumental effort to bring live production facilities to the backcountry, where there are no pre-existing infrastructure: no electricity, no road or pist access, no nothing!
Besides the live production there are tons of other deliverables, from webclips and highlights to newscut and TV programs. That’s a pretty complex operation all in all, especially with the tight deadlines we have to meet to ensure distribution success and keep our sponsors happy. The average production team grew accordinly, from 10-12 people back in the days to between 35 and 40 people nowadays.
They happily travel the world, shooting in freezing temperatures, editing in tents and hangars with gloves on, and so on as can be seen on these behind the scenes photos taken by David Carlier over the first events of the season:
2015 has been a very intense season on every level, first because of some exciting new locations, a new event with the Freeride Juniors World Championship held in Grandvalira/Andorra, and also because Mother Nature played some interesting tricks on us.
After a pretty smooth season start in Chamonix (see the best-of clip here), things got complicated in Fieberbrunn (Austria) due to tricky snow conditions. We had to relocate the event in just 48h to Kappl/Tirol to find the right snow conditions. Unfortunately bib number 2 Julien Lopez triggered an avalanche in the middle of his run. He immediately deployed his ABS airbag to stay on top of the avalanche (now a mandatory piece of equipment for the riders on the FWT) and the rescue team was near him in under a minute. Lopez could ski out of it unharmed, but it was a very stressful moment to handle live – especially as Julien Lopez is a very charismatic guy that a lot of people on the production team know and appreciate.
Fortunately this crisis scenario was something that we (race director, mountain guides, producer, director, commentators) were prepared for and we had our protocols ready. Of course such an incident raises a lot of questions. Our preparation was put into practice with the production of a press release and video clip above, detailing the dynamics of the avalanche and the safety measures taken prior and during the competition.
The response was well received among fans and media alike, and the decision was made to run two competitions during the next event window in Vallnord, Andorra. Things went well there, with one of the highlights of the season being the insane run from Sam Smoothy – that’s a must watch!