Editor's Note: In honor of International Women's Day, we here at Teton Gravity Research are going through the archives to find some of our favorite content that celebrates the women in our industry. The FWT's equal pay announcement was HUGE for 2020 and hopefully signals that gender inequality will be a thing of the past in action sports.
2020 is all about equality for the Freeride World Tour. FWT Photo.
This month, when the Freeride World Tour athletes drop from the Hakuba start gate, they’ll all be competing for the same cash prize—male or female. The Freeride World Tour is setting a new standard at the dawn of a new decade: equal pay regardless of gender. It’s a progressive step forward for female freeriding, and the FWT hopes it will elevate the next generation of freeriders. On top of gender parity in pay, the FWT has created a new program, Girls Just Wanna Have Pow, to mentor upcoming female athletes. Young skiers and snowboarders can register at a variety of stops on the tour to ride with legends like Arianna Tricomi, Jacqueline Pollard, Marion Haerty, and more.
This decision marks a turning point for freeriding, which has long been a male-dominated sport. In an interview for Jackson Hole Snowboarding Magazine, freeride snowboarding pioneer Julie Zell recounted to me the struggles women faced during the early days of the sport.
Julie Zell broke ground for women's snowboarding with three wins at the Valdez big mountain freeride competion, The King and Queen of the Hill. TGR Archives
On top of the inadequate gear and limited sponsorships, prize money was laughably disproportionate. When she competed at the 1996 Verbier Xtremes, a precursor for the FWT stop at Verbier, a male snowboarder won $4,000 for third place. His prize purse was $1,000 more than her first place winnings. Meanwhile, the female third-place winner didn’t even win money, Zell remembered her walking away with a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates. Thankfully, now female competitors don’t have to worry about covering their travel expenses or bills with a fancy bottle of vino. Instead, men and women will now win the same prize money across all categories.
FWT competitors are elated to see the change. Marion Haerty, Two-time Snowboard Women World Champion, said, "I’ve been competing since the age of 10, I have been able to observe positive developments so that women, too, have the means to create their dreams in this discipline. For my part, I was lucky to be surrounded by incredible men who served as role models and encouraged me to keep progressing. I hope that this sends a message of empowerment to the next generations.” And it’s not just the women who are excited, the men are on board too. Drew Tabke, Two-time Ski Men World Champ, spoke up saying, “I believe it’s the right move, as I’m confident it will push performance levels while growing worldwide participation of women in Freeride.”
The FWT joins other notable action sport entities like WSL and Crankworx by introducing equal pay. Left: Scott Robarts Photo. Right: WSL Photo.
This milestone is not isolated to the world of skiing, and in the last decade, we’ve witnessed exciting leaps and bounds for gender equality in action sports as a whole. Last year, the WSL made history by introducing equal pay within a sport that at times paid female surfers 10 percent of what male athletes earned. In 2015, the Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival implemented equal payouts and shared podiums for its awards. The goal? To show the biking community that male and female champions should be treated equally.
Both sporting entities are thinking beyond just equal pay, and taking steps to make a change that benefits more than just their athletes. The WSL and Crankworx have created their own female-focused initiatives, Rising Tides and Shifting Perceptions, to create change beyond the competition venue for upcoming lady shredders in their respective sports. With the FWT following suit, it brings the action sports community one step closer to complete parity between genders.
Randall Jacobs was a self-described Arizona desert rat, Telluride ski bum, and connoisseur of the better things in life. Legacy.com photo. We never knew Randall Jacobs, but we sure wish that we did. Randall Jacobs, a self-described Arizona desert rat, Telluride ski bum, and connoisseur of the better things in life known as “Uncle Bunky” passed away earlier this month. According to his legendary obituary, crafted by his nephew, pays homage to the hang-loose lifestyle Jacobs seemed to
Last spring, Ted Ligety and Antti Autti met up at Snowbird to rip groomers and search for the perfect turn while creating SHRED.’s short film, . United by a passion for carving, one of the greatest skiers of all time and one of the best snowboarders in the world embraced everything the mountain has to offer. Each brought his own creativity and style to the snow. RELATED: Check out the TGR Journal Vol. 1 With corduroy as their canvas, they revealed that nothing compares to the beauty and
Most years, the skiing at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado just starts to get really fun in the end of May. With other ski resorts closed and snow line creeping ever higher in the backcountry, the party really gets started at A Bay, with slushy spring laps and post-ski tailgate parties at the Beach. Well, if you thought you were going to have to miss out on the fun this year, you’re in luck. Arapahoe Basin announced they will re-open (with some strict rules in place) tomorrow, May 27. It might not be