FWQ Ecosystem In The Andes Rapidly Developing
With the recent announcement of the Los Penitentes, Argentina 3* event and the addition of the Cerro Castillo 2* event in Chile, competition opportunities have doubled for FWQ athletes in the Andes. Still, most would argue that two events does not a season make. That would be correct, however on the heels of the confirmation of Penitentes as a 3* FWQ event, developments are coming quickly, making a trip to the Andes in 2016 a serious consideration for FWQ athletes looking to compete, have fun and ride one of the largest mountain ranges on the planet.
The most recent opportunity for FWQ athletes in addition to the Cerro Castillo and Los Penitentes competitions includes the first annual South America Freeride Festival at the Argentinian resort of Cerro Catedral outside of Bariloche. Scheduled immediately following the FWQ 3* Penitentes event (August 19 and 20th), the South America Freeride Festival runs from August 23 to 28 and is bookended by a pending 2* FWQ event in La Hoya, making it the perfect addition to the FWQ competitor’s global travel schedule. Based at the resort of Cerro Catedral, athletes will enjoy slopeside hospitality while learning from some of the best in the business about line selection, judging criteria, industry best practices, and more.
Photo 1: Current conditions at Cerro Catedral, which will be hosting the first annual South American Freeride Festival are excellent. Here’s a shot from July 16.
“This is a huge opportunity to for FWQ athletes to progress via an organized platform while they are traveling in South America,” says Pete Connolly of South American Surf and Snow Sessions (SASS), the FWQ partner for the Festival. “While on and off-snow coaching and education remain the focus of the week, we’ll be sure to make plenty of time for fun: parties, asados (massive Argentinean BBQ’s), film festivals, brewery tours, and gatherings with locals and visitors are all on the agenda, making this a cultural shred experience of a lifetime. “
A key part of the week will be a Freeride Expression Session, with high quality 3* level FWQ terrain, real-life judging and all the elements of a top-tier competition. Please note that while this Expression Session has not yet been confirmed as an actual FWQ event, organizers continue to work closely with the FWT and Cerro Catedral, hoping to confirm an FWQ comp at the 3* level as soon as possible.
“We are excited to partner with SASS to develop the freeriding ecosystem in the Andes region,” says Tom Winter, Freeride World Tour Americas Manager. “Their professionalism as well as their focus on education, snow-safety and athlete coaching dovetails with our goals of ensuring that freeriding remains a safe and enjoyable sport, accessible to all. This festival will be a unique opportunity for new and experienced athletes in an amazing part of the Andes and it shouldn’t be missed.”
Photo 2: Action from Los Penitentes in 2015. This year the FWQ competition returns as a 3* event, with increased organization, including on-site technical staff from the FWT.
In addition to the just announced South American Freeride Festival, additional FWQ competitions at La Hoya and Chapelco are in the works. “Penitentes returning again this year was a big deal in the region,” says Winter. “Other resorts have taken notice that there are real opportunities when it comes to freeriding and supporting competitions and they’re now asking how they can get involved and partner with the FWQ. As those who have traveled through the Andes understand, it sometimes takes more time than you’d like to make things happen here, but I’m cautiously optimistic that by working closely with our partners in the region, from SASS to Freeride Sudamerica to Freeride Argentina, that we’ll be able to announce some additional competition opportunities for athletes in 2016.”
For more information on the South American Freeride Festival in Bariloche, go here:
For more information on the Los Penitentes 3* event, go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1076653812414596/
To keep up to date with freeriding news and developments in the Andes, tune into http://www.freeridesudamerica.com/
News banner: The proposed FWQ event venue at Cerro Catedral. South American Freeride Festival organizers hope to be able to confirm a 3* event shortly. But this and the other terrain around Cerro Catedral remains tasty regardless of if you’re riding for the judges or riding for yourself.