Last year’s women’s snowboard Freeride World Tour champions. Star Photo.

Last year’s women’s snowboard Freeride World Tour champions. Star Photo.

Freeride World Tour pushes for athlete equality at Kicking Horse

New program will provide the opportunity for local female athletes to get pro tips

The Freeride World Tour has launched a new program aimed at bringing together female skiers and snowboarders, which is set to debut in Golden on Feb. 5 when the tour makes its stop at Kicking Horse.

The program, called “Girls Just Wanna Have POW,” will provide the opportunity for local female athletes to get pro tips from some of the world’s best in the sport. Women freeriders are invited to ride with the female athletes from the world tour and share their love of the sport, and the mountain.

Jacqueline Pollard, Michelle Locke, Jessica Hotter, Erika Vikander and Rachel Croft are some of the big names expected to participate in the event. Registration can be done online and is free of charge.

The program is building off the announcement just last week that the Freeride World Tour will be awarding equal pay prize money across all categories for male and female athletes.

“It is important to Freeride World Tour to be an example of gender equality, sending a message to all riders, male, female, skiers and snowboarders,” said Fanny Avril, a press relations agent for the Freeride World Tour.

The Freeride World Tour is looking to inspire the next generation of athletes through equal pay and programs such as the “Girls Just Wanna Have POW” program. They are seeking to encourage both young men and women to chase their dreams and to chase a coveted spot on the Freeride World Tour.

The winners of each of the four categories will now receive USD $5,000, with runner-up athletes earning $3,000 and third place walking away with $2,000. Fourth place athletes will be awarded $1,500, and all others till last place taking home $1,000. The total prize money per event is $80,000.

For the past 25 years on the Freeride World Tour, prize money was distributed based on the principle of equity, meaning that there was more prize money for podium winners in categories with more riders than for categories with less riders. This meant that the men’s ski event had the most prize money, as they had up to 20 participants, while categories such as women’s ski, men’s snowboard, which each have 10 riders, and women’s snowboard, which has six, had less money to give out.

This was put in place so that all riders would end up with the same average prize money at the end of the season, as events with more riders are harder to win.

While on average male and female riders were able to earn the same amount in prize money, there was a smaller purse for female riders, which created the optics of an unfair system.

“The problem with this system was that some people don’t understand it, and believed it to be unfair,” said Avril. “We decided to move to equality to cut the discussion and apply a basic gender equality system, which in turn will promote female skiing and snowboarding.”

According to Avril, the move has been widely applauded across the board, from both athletes and fans alike.

The Freeride World Tour will be coming to Golden for the third year in a row from Feb. 6-12.