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The SunGod Guide to the FWT 2020

21 January 2020

A full roundup of the Freeride World Tour 2020 - In one place.

The wait is over. The Freeride World Tour 2020 is upon us and as the Official Eyewear Partner of the Tour, we’ll be keeping you up to date with all the action as it unfolds.

So what is the Freeride World Tour?

Put simply, the Freeride World Tour is the highest level of competitive freeriding in the World. The FWT consists of 5 stops in 5 different locations. The goal is simple, each athlete gets one opportunity at each stop to impress the judges as they ride some of the gnarliest faces in the world. To learn more about the FWT and our role as the Official Eyewear Partner, click here.

FWT founder Nico Hale Woods and Head Judge Laurent Besse at the face check in Hakuba last weekend wearing Limited Edition FWT 20 Vanguards.

Meet the FWT20 SunGod TEAM

We’re welcoming some fresh new faces onto the SunGod FWT team for 2020…

CARL RENVALL

"I am super happy to be back on the FWT. I am going to push myself for real this year – I can’t wait!”

Verbier born and bred, freeriding is in Carl's blood. Half Swiss and half Swedish, Carl has been skiing his entire life, exploring the backcountry from the age of 10 with his mountaineer father. He is no stranger to freeride success, dominating the rankings as a Junior and storming to the top of Freeride World Qualifier rankings onto the Freeride World Tour at only 19 years old. Having taken some time out to ski for himself, Carl has made an effortless comeback to the Freeride World Tour for 2020. His unrivalled agility and unique talent for spotting the best lines makes him a force to be reckoned with…

Learn more about Carl's FWT journey here

His second time on the FWT, Carl means business this year.

Michaela Davis-Meehan

“I am in it to win it. It’s awesome to be representing Australia and to get us on the map for the FWT!”

The beaches of Newcastle NSW, Australia don’t particularly lend themselves to the pursit of a career in snowboarding but that didn’t stop 8-year-old Michaela strapping on a board and doing just that. Now 28, Michaela is the only Australian on the FWT this year and is pumped to be fighting for that number one spot. We’re stoked to see her progress and we look forward to welcoming her to Verbier for the grand finale in March!

FWT Rookie Michaela Davis Meehan is primed and ready to throw it all down on her FWT debut.

FWT 2020 gets going in Hakuba

By FWT Commentator Neil Williman

This year, SunGod Ambassador, former FWT athlete turned FWT commentator Neil Williman will be bringing us his own unique take on each stage and quite frankly, we couldn’t think of anyone better for the job. With over a decade of experience in competitive freeriding and having been on the Tour himself, he’s pretty well placed to be waxing lyrical on the events of each stage...

SunGod Ambassador and FWT commentator Neil Williman will be providing lightning fast updates on each stage.

Although there was less snow in the Japanese Alps than we're used to, the surprisingly clear weather gave beautiful views of sunrise over a cloud-sea and the steep terrain that most people don't know Japan has.

Snowboard Women

This was the first ever FWT competition with equal prize money across all categories and the stoke was high in the camp. Marion Haerty wasted no time in storming to another convincing win to back up her perfect comp season in 2019. Fast, fluid and stylish riding from the French rider was reminiscent of her win on the Bec de Rosses last winter and she was awarded the top spot. 2nd place was a less easy prediction as last years 2nd and 3rd overall riders are both out injured- sending best wishes to Anna Orlova and Manu Mandl. That opened the door to Australian rookie and SunGod rider Michaela Davis-Meehan to put down a solid run and claim a spot on the podium at her first opportunity. Erika Vikander, the Rookie of the Year from 2018, took 3rd to get her comp season off to a great start.

Snowboard Men

In the same way as the girls the defending champ from 2019 came back to win the first stop- Victor de le Rue showing that he has the skills no matter the snow conditions, stomping a huge backflip on his first cliff and flowing stylishly down to the hot seat. Again it was fresh faces on the rest of the podium though, Nils Mindnich from the states, well known for his banger film parts and now wildcarded onto the tour slaying this new venue with multiple spins to claim 2nd spot. Elias Elhardt, the German wildcard charged onto the podium with a playful run topped off by a majestic transfer air at the bottom of the venue with a smooth 360. That feature became a favourite with other riders too, but even though they had Elias's track to follow, few of them made it look as effortless.

SunGod Athlete, Michaela Davis Meehan takes the second spot in the snowboard women.

Ski Women

Hedvig Wessel, the former world cup mogul skier started her competition season exactly the same way as 2019- with a huge backflip. Taking first place in the first competition of the season sets Hedvig up for an interesting battle with double defending FWT champion Ari Tricomi, who claimed 2nd with her trademark relaxed and flowy free-style. Elisabeth Gerritzen, coming off a win at FWT finals in Verbier last season backed it up with a 3rd spot in Hakuba with a similarly hard-charging line.

Ski Men

The stacked field of guys on skis promised fireworks and did not disappoint. The level just keeps on rising on the FWT and now tricks seem pretty compulsory to get a shot at the podium. SunGod rider Carl Renvall came 11th in his first comp back on the FWT since 2017, the top 13 guys will qualify for the FWT finals in his hometown of Verbier, so he's in line for that so far. Showing that they can still keep up with the young guns, the FWT champs from 2013 and 2012 grabbed spots on the podium - Drew Tabke winning with a huge backflip on the same air as Victor de le Rue. Reine Barkered had a similar run and landed in 3rd place. When congratulated he beamed replying in his typical dry humour- 'thanks, it's been a while'. Storming into 2nd place in his first ever FWT comp with the most impressive single move of the day was Kiwi rookie Hank Bilous, with a mind bending transfer air over a blind gap- crashing was not a option. Such a great start to the season and looking forward to the Kicking Horse comp, coming up in early February!

A super controlled run from Carl sees him into 11th place in a tooth and nail battle for the top 3 podium spots.

fwt 2020 stop 2: kicking horse

By FWT Commentator Neil Williman

After the somewhat challenging conditions in Hakuba, athletes were rewarded with some signature British Columbia powder which made for epic conditions on comp day at Kicking Horse.

Snowboard Women

Marion Haerty, the defending FWT champ, started the day off with a bang. First out of the gate and showing why she won 4 out of 5 competitions last season, she put down a film part line in the deep fresh snow to sit in the hot seat and watch the rest of the field. The Canadian wildcard Claudia Avon showed why she’s been invited too, climbing onto the podium in second place, possibly picking up a wildcard for the rest of the season. Erika ‘the viking’ Vikander took 3rd to back up her 3rd place in the Hakuba stop, which has set up the overall standings for a tight race for 2nd, with Marion already far in the lead. SunGod rider Michaela Davis-Meehan is one of those eyeing second overall after getting into a gnarly zone at this comp to back up her podium in Hakuba. Sadly a control issue cost her a spot on the box this time!

Ski Women

The ski ladies put on a super strong performance - every single rider skied aggressively and stomped their line, making life difficult for the judges. The winner from Hakuba, Hedwig Wessel, put down a solid run early in the category only to watch every other competitor beat her score, with her eventually finishing last even though she make no mistakes - that’s how high the level was. In the end, Jess Hotter from NZ took the top spot, in only her second FWT competition, followed closely by the double defending champ Ari Tricomi, who spun a committed 360 at the top of the venue. Elisabeth Gerritzen took 3rd for the second comp in a row too, to put her in 3rd overall.

SunGod rider Michaela Davis Meehan makes the most of the conditions early on in the day.

Snowboard Men

Sammy Luebke completed his return to form with a strong and stylish run that had him sitting in the hot seat for the snowboard men until the end of the field, when Jonathan Penfield put down a freestyle filled heater of a line to grab top spot for the first time in a long time. Victor de le Rue backed up his win at this event last year with a 3rd place this year, good enough to keep him in the yellow bib for first place overall.

Ski Men

In stark contrast to the ladies skiing, the guys couldn’t keep their aggressive runs together and many of them came unstuck in dramatic fashions, starting with the local wildcard Logan Pehota who had what he called "the biggest crash of my career". Fireworks continued with Yu Sasaki teeing off the biggest cliff in the venue, but it was the day of the Swedes in the end with 2018 FWT champ Kristofer Turdell flashing the venue to win and his friend and fellow Scandinavian Big Mountain Championship winner Carl Regner in runner-up. Utah native Andrew Pollard joined them on the podium, which means he’ll be wearing the yellow bib in Andorra for the first time. Watching the carnage unfold as the last to go was SunGod athlete Carl Renvall who laid down a solid run to finish in 8th. Things are set up excitingly for Andorra at the end of the month!

One of the few men to stay on their feet, SunGod athlete Carl Renvall puts down a solid run to edge up the overall rankings.

The third stop of the fwt will take place between the 28th of feb to the 4th of march at ordino arcalis, andorra. check here for updates!

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