A Look at the Ski Gear on the 2023 Freeride World TourPublished on 05/25/2023 · 10 min readThe jaw-dropping performances on the Freeride World Tour requires the highest performance gear. Discover the skis each of the 2023 athletes use here.
The Freeride World Tour is the ultimate in freeskiing, and its riders are generally considered among the best skiers in the world. For the competitors, it is the culmination of years of training and practice—they have to be able to ride some of the toughest mountain faces there are. They not only have to get down safely but throw tricks and stomp huge cliffs regardless of snow conditions, all while looking good and being judged while doing so.
Needless to say, the competitors need their gear to perform at the same high level that they do. Obviously, it’s not the gear that makes the athlete, but whenever you’re pushing the limits of what you’re capable of, having the right gear to support you can make all the difference.
Here’s who’s riding what on the tour this year…
Bridging the gap between an all-mountain freestyle ski and a powder ski, the Bent Chetler 110 is a lightweight, surfy, and fun-loving ski that is being used to throw tricks down some of the gnarliest terrain you can ski. These pros definitely need its uber maneuverability to navigate the rocks and sharks that abound on the course.
- Arianna Tricomi from Corvara, Italy - No. 1 overall in 2018, 2019, and 2020
- Justine Dufour-Lapointe from Quebec, Canada - two-time Olympic medalist in moguls
- Sybille Blanjean from Verbier, Switzerland
On the men’s side, Aymar Navarro is one of the most exciting athletes on the tour—thanks to his “go big or go home” style—and his go-to ski is the Backland 117. A lightweight and stiff ski, he and the other male Atomic athletes use every last millimeter of the 117mm underfoot when charging straight down the fall line and stomping the largest cliffs they can find. Atomic recently released a Backland 117 signature ski that Navarro helped design.
- Aymar Navarro from Val d’Aran, Spain
- Craig Murray from Canterbury, New Zealand
- Manu Barnard from Wanaka, New Zealand
Tour legend Kristofer Turdell has been on the Black Crows Anima for his entire FWT career, and they have helped him win two Overall Titles in 2018 and 2021. The Anima is a wide playful ski, and Turdell has said in interviews that it’s his go-to ski for in the resort as well as in competition because it’s the perfect combination of maneuverable and stable. In what’s becoming more and more common among ski manufacturers, Black Crows skis are technically unisex; the only differences between their male and female models are the offered lengths and topsheet design. So it’s no surprise that tour newcomer Addison Rafford chooses to ski the same ski as Kristofer.
- Kristofer Turdell from Gällivare, Sweden - No. 1 overall in 2018 and 2021
- Addison Rafford from Ketchum, Idaho
The Rustler series is an incredibly popular line-up by Blizzard. With Blizzard’s FlipCore and TrueBlend technologies, they’re smooth-feeling with a consistent flex, producing a stable ski in a variety of conditions. The Rustler 11 features a deep rocker profile which makes them adept at quick turns in tight spots, but they are still a confidence-inspiring ski at high speeds and in variable snow conditions.
- Leo Slemett from Chamonix, France - No. 1 overall in 2017
M Free 108
The Dynastar M Free 108 is a playful freestyle ski that loves to dart and pivot around the mountain, while also being stable and damp in most snow conditions. It’s a loose ski that excels at slashing every patch of snow you encounter and feels very surfy on soft snow.
- Reine Barkered from Duved, Sweden - No. 1 overall in 2012
Similar to Black Crows skis, the only differences between Faction’s men's and women's skis are the available colors and lengths. 2021 Champion Elisabeth Gerritzen’s choice is the new Faction Dancer 3X. This metal laminate ski is the widest women’s offering, with a 106mm width underfoot, to float in deep snow. With its stiff flat tail, it powers through firm, fresh chopped-up snow with ease.
- Elisabeth Gerritzen from Verbier, Switzerland - No. 1 overall in 2021
2019 Rookie of the Year Andrew Pollard and Vail’s Jack Nichols choose the biggest charging ski Faction makes—the Dancer 4. At 116mm underfoot, it’s a big mountain ski built to negotiate steep high-consequence terrain and stomp huge airs.
The Kore lineup by Head is another unisex series of skis, so it should come as no surprise that the athletes on tour who are sponsored by Head are all on the same basic ski, with some difference in width due to body size. In what is becoming a recurring theme, the Head Kore 111 is a wide and lightweight ski. It’s nimble for quick turns with a lot of surface area for stability in rough snow. The Kore series forgoes traditional metal for lightweight Graphene—the lightest thinnest strongest material in the world. This high-tech construction lets Head build a strong ski without the weight of traditional metal alloys.
The Head Kore 117 is a wider version of the Kore 111, and the men use that extra surface area to land their airs and stay stable in choppy snow conditions at high speeds.
The Nomad 105 is Icelantic’s best-selling ski because of how versatile it is. On a mountain in a high-snow area, the Nomad 105 will rarely encounter a trail or condition where it’ll feel out of place. It is a better carver and has better suspension than most freestyle skis, yet it’s forgiving and more playful than most stiff directional skis.
- Leif Mumma from Alyeska, AK
A playful powder twin-tip, the Reckoner 112 is a softer ski that’s easy to butter, spin, and flex in turns. It makes the most fun out of every turn. Balanced in the air and able to ski and land switch with ease, the Reckoner is a freestyle machine meant for turning out tricks.
- Lexi Dupont from Sun Valley, ID
The Mindbender 115C Alliance is K2’s widest women’s specific offering, and while it obviously excels in powder, it maintains its composure well on firmer and variable snow. It’s not the stiffest and most stable ski in its class, but it’s above average and is more nimble and versatile than most of the skis ahead of it.
- Manon Loschi from La Clusaz, France
The Mindbender 116C is the ski that inspired the name “Mindbender” because of how versatile it is for such a wide ski. Its use on the Freeride World Tour, where versatility is the name of the game, is a great testament to that. For us mere mortals, the Mindbender 116C is a soft snow ski that’s quick and easy and feels at home in a wide variety of terrain. Directional skiers who want excellent stability and float in soft snow along with above-average maneuverability have a lot to like here.
- Max Hitzig from Montafon, Austria
Truckee’s Lily Bradley goes with a brand that’s local for her. Made in Reno, NV, the Moment Commander 108 is a ski that’s supportive in varied conditions, composed at high speeds, and isn’t a massive burden when you need to make tight turns or navigate sketchy rocky terrain. All of these are extremely helpful given the unpredictable nature of the Freeride World Tour venues.
- Lily Bradley from Truckee, California
The Nordica Enforcer 115 Free (sometimes called the Enforcer Pro) is the widest ski that Nordica offers and only comes in a 191cm length. It’s meant for chewing up soft snow and asking for more. Featuring two sheets of titanal metal, it blasts through crud and variable conditions better than almost any ski and certainly provides a strong stable platform to land any jumps and aerial tricks.
- Valentin Rainer from Innsbruck, Austria
A small indy brand located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Praxis has been making custom and semi-custom skis for the past 15 years. They have developed a loyal following of professional freeriders from 2013 overall champion Drew Tabke to 2023 rookie Jedidiah Kravitz, whose first-place finish in the World Qualifier event last year earned him a spot in this year’s tour. The Jedi Mind Stick is a ski he’s been developing with Praxis for several years now with a versatile 114mm waist that floats in powder but still performs well on hardpack and chop.
- Jedidiah Kravitz from Reno, Nevada
Last year, rookie Max Palm made waves when he earned a Wildcard spot on the Baqueira Beret stop of the tour in Spain and subsequently landed the first-ever double backflip in tour history on his way to an event win. He did it on the 112mm wide Rossignol Sender Squad. A big heavy charging ski, meant for gunning it down the fall line at fast speeds, regardless of what’s in front of you. It only comes in a 194cm length so you know it means business.
- Max Palm from Chamonix, France
The Salomon QST is one of the best-selling all-mountain lineups of skis because of their incredible versatility combined with how easy they are to ski. The QST Stella 106 is the widest women’s-specific offering (though it features the same construction and shape as the men’s QST 106) and is an outstanding soft snow ski. As comfortable powder skipping as they are charging down a couloir, the QST Stella 106 gives confidence to an intermediate skier looking to up their soft snow skiing or be the go-to do-everything ski for an advanced skier.
- Delilah Quinn from Tahoe, California
An uber-playful freestyle ski, the Völkl Revolt 121 is one of the widest skis used on the Tour and gained popularity over the years on the feet of 2019 Overall champion Markus Eder. It has a lot more freestyle flair (and a touch less stability) than many of the other skis mentioned above, but there aren’t many choices that are better if you want something easy to maneuver, balanced in the air, and able to make the mountain your playground.
- Finn Bilous from Wanaka, New Zealand
If your top priority when skiing is stability, no matter what speed you’re going or the snow conditions, then the Völkl Katana 108 should be very high on your prospective list. No matter what’s in front of you—bumps, cliffs, trees, or even small children—few skis offer the top-end smoothness and predictability like the Katana, and none of them are as maneuverable or as versatile for making different-sized turns.
- Ross Tester from Tahoe, California
I hope you get a chance to watch some of the Tour events this year, the recent acquisition of the Tour by F.I.S (the international governing body for skiing for the Olympics) makes this an exciting year and hopefully fuels further growth of the sport of freeriding! Unfortunately the first event of the year in Kicking Horse, BC has been rescheduled to February due to unsafe snow conditions, but they’ll still run five stops in five different countries and end with the annual Xtreme Verbier Challenge on the awe-inspiring Bec des Rosses.
If you’d like to check out some of these skis, or are just looking to upgrade your current setup and are wondering what are the best options for your individual ski style, reach out to a Ski Expert like myself and get personalized recommendations on any ski gear, from skis and boots to jackets and pants and everything in between. Happy Shredding!