The Freeride World Tour held its Haines competition today, but in isolation from the rest of the world. Technical satellite errors quashed organizers’ plans to stream the event online live. That left fans with no way to watch their favorite skiers and snowboarders take on the Alaska mountains.
A spokesman says even though the technical glitch was a ‘huge disappointment,’ the competition itself was successful.
The remoteness and unpredictability of Alaska impacted the Freeride once again. Last year, the event was delayed three times because of inclement weather. This year, the weather was great, but the remote location apparently caused issues with the satellite connection Freeride uses to livestream each competition. Tom Winter is a spokesperson for the tour.
“Everything was in place and everything was happening and the cameras were all rolling and the helicopters were flying and getting aerial footage and the live announcers were there announcing. And it became apparent that there was a technical glitch that wasn’t allowing the satellite uplink to fully connect.”
Winter says that kind of glitch is very unusual. But he says they’ve learned that in Alaska, you have to expect the unexpected. Ultimately, since the weather conditions were good, organizers decided to go ahead with the competition even though the livestream wasn’t working.
“The weather was absolutely fantastic, really calm clear day, very good visibility for the atheltes, good visibility for the judges, a safe, stable snowpack. So all of those things came together and given the weather window in Haines, you can’t hope that it’ll be a better day tomorrow because the weather does change up here.”
In Haines, the library had to tell a handful of people gathered to watch the livestream that they were out of luck. And on the Freeride Facebook page, fans from around the world lamented the technical problems.
“Yeah it’s a tough one, this was a tough one to not have live because it’s got a large viewership. It’s painful. It’s painful to have this happen but it’s a learning process working in an environment like Haines.”
But the competition went smoothly for the athletes, Winter says. The big surprise of the day was ‘wild card’ guest athlete and Southeast Alaska snowboarder Ryland Bell, who placed first in his category.
“It totally came together for him and he won it. He certainly made a statement for local Alaska snowboarders, so that’s awesome.”
Bell is from Elfin Cove and Fairbanks. He was invited to compete in the Haines stop, but won’t be competing in the finals in Verbier, Switzerland. Sammy Luebke and Flo Orley took second and third place in men’s snowboard. Anne-Flore Marxer took the gold in women’s snowboard, followed by Estelle Balet and Marion Haerty.
In the men’s ski category, Logan Pehota, Loic Collomb-Patton and Drew Tabke took the top three spots. Eva Walkner had the top score in women’s ski, followed by Matilda Rapaport and Arianna Tricomi.
The livestream is scheduled to be posted on the Freeride World Tour website Tuesday morning.
KHNS will have a more detailed story about the Freeride event Tuesday evening.