Åre, Feb 15 th, 2009.
Åre Welcomes The North Face® Ski Challenge Presented by Gore-Tex® For Second Time, Matches Record Number of Young Freeskiers Qualified For Final in Val Thorens !
The North Face Ski Challenge presented by Gore-Tex made its second appearance in almost ideal conditions in the famous Swedish resort of Åre. Wonderful park preparation and great freeride snow conditions helped the qualifying stage become probably the best ever since the tour began last year ! Eleven young Swedish riders qualified and will compete in the final to maybe win the ultimate prize: a sponsoring contract and get help to become a pro rider and change ski lives !
In its third year, the Ski Challenge is still finding new talents accross Europe. 47 riders gathered in Åre to participate in this year’s stage of The North Face Ski Challenge by Gore-Tex. And although a rather large participation wasn’t a surprise to us, the kids’ determination was. Some had travelled all the way from places more than six hundred kilometers away from the Swedish resort located an hour west of Östersund. And in their eyes, as we ran through their applications in the local Stadium store on Åretorget, you could see that they had come back to try to win and qualify for the final in Val Thorens.
Bräcken Park Forever !
This year again, Åre & Skistar helped us put up a show really didn’t look like a series made for young talents only, but rather a contest for pros and experienced riders. Many spectators stopped in the black line of the Bräcken Park and watched the kids throw huge tricks. From Corkscrew 900 to Alley Hoops, Misty 720 and more, you had both variety and quality ! The young skiers profited from incredible park preparation and varied modules adapted to different levels. The whole field could compete in ideal conditions !
Judges Tom Oliver Hedvall and Tommy Eliasson were impressed:
“ It’s a bit hard for me to judge my own friends “ Hedvall commented “ but in the end, they would do the same for me if I was still of age to compete. And this victory last year had changed my ski life so much that I really want to help qualify people that will stand a chance in the final !”
A total of 4 runs were taken, one of the Red Line (a slightly easier jump line), two in the Black Line (experts only! ) and one in the huge rail section of the park.
Tired and cold, riders went home to rest and wait for the weather to hopefully clear up and the wind to stop.
Incredible Weather Allows Incredible Freeride Day !
The freeride day started under the most wonderful of blue skies, with virtually no wind. And the freeride area selected was so wide that the lines were both diverse and numerous enough to allow the whole field of skiers to express itself both in style and diversity.
Equipped with ARVA transmitters, shovels, probes and backpacks, the participants met on the top of Åre to enjoy an incredible scenery of the valley thousand meters below.
As usual, no inspection was allowed and riders had time during their first run to choose their own itinerary and test new ones during the second.
Judge Matteo Vettorel, The North Face Team manager commented: “ the sky is blue, the riders are really good and you can see that they have trained in all snow conditions since last year’s event. Not surprising, of course but very encouraging for the event !”
Former Winners and New Blood !
Morten Grape in the Kings’ category was the big winner, repeating his victory from last year in the teens. But competition was both strong and numerous as Max Hedvall in the teens demonstrated incredible maturity and is now dreaming of following the steps of his bigger brother Tom Oliver and maybe become a sponsored athlete !
Join Now !
The North Face Ski Challenge presented by Gore-Tex is now heading south back to the Alps, to Chamonix on Feb 28-Mar 1 and will travel east to discover Jasna, Slovakia ( March 7-8). All qualified riders will then meet in Val Thorens, France on March 27-28 to determine who’ll win the ultimate prize: a sponsoring contract with The North Face, Dynastar and Lange and become a pro rider ! More info and applications online on www.thenorthface.com/skichallenge
About The Competition
The Ski Challenge idea came to life when J.P. Baralo, a former freeski team manager, realized that there was no European outlet to showcase the potential of young, undiscovered freeskiers. Baralo approached The North Face, and together they created a new, unique event in which unknown kids from across Europe could demonstrate their skills and have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. The North Face Ski Challenge Tour is open to all European residents, boys and girls, aged 12-18.