Words: Jeff Schmuck
As we've touched on during our last few updates on the AFP World Rankings, we wanted remind all of the athletes, industry figures and the public that despite the post-Olympic fatigue many have been experiencing, along with the fact that Old Man Winter is beginning to pack his bags as the end of the season appears on the less snowy horizon, there is still a month to go on quite possibly the most stacked AFP World Tour in history.
While some may have considered freeskiing's debut and subsequent success at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to be the culmination of an already long and rigorous competitive season (particularly since many of the athletes who competed in the Games are taking some well-deserved time off, or in some cases have opted out of competing for the rest of the season all together), as we've seen with Gold and Platinum-level events like the recent SFR Tour stops in France and the always incredible Aspen/Snowmass Open in Colorado, the AFP World Tour is still very much in full swing, with a handful of marquee events still yet to take place, including (but not limited to) the upcoming Halfpipe Finals of the SFR Tour in Tignes, France (which is ranked Platinum), the resurrected European Open in Laax, Switzerland (which is ranked Gold), the iconic Dumont Cup in Sunday River, Maine (which is ranked Platinum), and the grand daddy of them all, the AFP World Championships during the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, BC (which is also ranked Platinum).
Alex Bellemare, currently ranked 37th on the Men's Slopestyle Rankings.
As a result of this, we recently took the time to speak to some of the athletes who are continuing to soldier on amidst the competitive battlefield in a valiant quest to obtain some highly coveted AFP points, as despite the results of major events like Dew Tour, X Games and most importantly the Olympics (which was not an AFP-sanctioned event), virtually all of the AFP World Titles are still very much in play and up for grabs.
Jamie Crane-Mauzy (right) at the SFR Tour Slopestyle Finals in La Clusaz, France. Photo by Nico Schlosser / SFR Freestyle Tour
"I made the trip over to Europe to compete on the SFR Tour strictly to grab some more AFP points, because the higher you are the rankings at the end of the year, the more opportunities you'll have next year." – Jamie Crane-Mauzy, currently ranked 2nd on the Women's Overall Rankings.
Noah Wallace at the Frostgun Invitational. Photo by Jesper Gronnemark
"I recently came over to Europe because there were three or four contests happening over here that were all Gold ranked or higher, so I wanted the opportunity to do my best and score as many AFP points as I could in an effort to bump myself up the rankings so I can potentially score a spot in Dew Tour, X Games and all of the higher level events next year. Because if I can make it into the top 20 it will allow me the luxury of not having to worry too much about getting into events next year." – Noah Wallace, currently ranked 16th on the Men's Slopestyle Rankings.
Robby Franco at the SFR Tour in Vars, France. Photo by Nico Schlosser / SFR Freestyle Tour
"I'm currently in Europe and will be heading to Dumont Cup and AFP World Championships afterwards to stay in the game and get my AFP points up, because even though the Olympics are over there's still a series of competitions at the highest level. I know a lot of the bigger guys have opted out of the contests over here, but I don't think that makes a lot of sense, because it's going to allow the rankings to change, but at the same time, if they're not here, then it creates more of an opportunity for me, so I'm trying to take advantage of that and chase some of those guys down on the AFP World Rankings." – Robby Franco, currently ranked 27th on the Men's Slopestyle Rankings.
Alex Hackel at the SFR Tour in Vars, France. Photo by Mike Hanley
"The season is far from over, as there are a lot of Gold and Platinum-level events still taking place this year, which are great opportunities to score more points towards your AFP Ranking at the end of the year. It's been nice this year with the Olympics happening, because a lot of the guys who competed in them are taking some time off, but there are still so many contests, like the SFR Tour, Dumont Cup, AFP World Championships, and more, which gives up-and-comers like myself the chance to stand in the spotlight." – Alex Hackel, currently ranked 35th on the Men's Slopestyle Rankings.
As always, stay tuned to afpworldtour.com for updates on how all of the upcoming events on the AFP World Tour affect the AFP World Rankings, and on behalf of everyone at the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, good luck to all of the athletes over the course of the next month, and kudos to every single one of you for continuing push the competitive side of the sport while showcasing it to the world throughout this long but incredibly exciting season.