As the level of freeride skiing and snowboarding continues to progress so does the judging system. On the Freeride World Tour multiple judges score competitors individually and their scores are averaged in order to be as fair as possible. The judging method allows any style to win, an important factor for the athletes as they breed from various backgrounds like freestyle, alpine racing, boarder cross, skiers cross or pure freeriding.
A complex judging manual, which has been developed jointly by the Freeride World Tour organisers, judges, and competing athletes, serves as the basis for the training method for FWT judges. The objectives are to continually improve the overall quality and coherence of the Freeride World Tour and Freeride World Qualifiers’ judging systems. In order to become a FWT certified judge, potential candidates must complete the training program, pass a series of tests, judge past years’ competition runs and do real time judging at competitions.
Judging is based on overall impression, which takes into account the athlete’s line, fluidity, control, jumps and crashes. This split criteria mentality is key to determining the best overall impression of the run. Riders are scored on a scale with 100 possible scores and judges are trained to use the full scale when evaluating runs.
Prior to the competition, judges check the competition faces themselves and analyse possible lines and snow conditions while imagining what could be a very difficult or a safe line on the face.
Henrik Windstedt (SWE), Freeride World Champion 2008 and 3rd 2010 comments: "The judges have one of the most difficult jobs on the Freeride World Tour because the whole event is based on their ability to expertly evaluate each rider's run. The fact that all of the judges have been professional freeriders and the thorough training they go through in able to qualify to be a judge is the key to the great job they do."
Each Freeride World Tour contest has two sets of judges – one for skiing and one for snowboarding – including three judges and one head judge.
For FWT11 a major effort has been made to keep the same group of judges throughout the entire tour. Head Judge Berti Denervaud (SUI) explains that, “We believe it will bring stability in the judging throughout the season.” All judges have been professional freeriders and only judge their respective disciplines. All have judged FWT events in the past.
Head judge: Berti Denervaud (SUI)
Lolo Besse (FRA), Xavier Jordan (SUI), Jarkko Henttonen (FIN)
Gunnar Ploner (AUT) – Big Mountain Fieberbrunn 2011 by Nissan.
Head judge: Martin Winkler (AUT)
Dion Newport (NZE), Cato Laegreid (NOR)
Some stops: Andrea Binning (AUT), Oscar Sosa (ARG), Jean-Yves Michellod (SUI)
Freeride World Qualifiers (FWQ)
Regarding FWQ judging, Head Judge Berti Denervaud stated, “We will be authorising head judges and FWT advisors during the season’s first qualifier event, La Clusaz Radikal Mountain in France. In addition, we will have a higher number of certified head judges and advisors traveling to the FWQs. Former snowboard competitors Jarkko Henttonnen (FIN) and Cyril Neri (SUI) will continue as FWT advisors on Freeride World Qualifier events, to make sure the judging is aline with the FWT judging method.”