Kicking Horse has always felt like a natural fit for the Freeride World Tour.
Since it first hosted North America’s first stop on the top international freeskiing and riding circuit back in 2018, it’s just made sense.
Big mountain skiing is what the Golden, B.C., resort is famous for, after all. There are few places that can provide the type of easy access to challenging expert terrain that you get at Kicking Horse.
You step off the gondola, and it’s all pretty much there.
So it made sense six years ago that the Freeride World Tour would make Kicking Horse its North American home, and it makes sense now, even as the tour has grown and evolved.
“It’s massive and it’s been massively good for the Kicking Horse brand. It just fits the brand,” said Matt Mosteller, senior vice-president of marketing and resort experience at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which owns Kicking Horse. “Kicking Horse is known worldwide for challenging terrain, having the most chutes of any resort in North America and a top-10 vertical.
“It’s because of those things that the Freeride World Tour chose Kicking Horse. It’s really about these athletes challenging themselves on the most challenging natural canvas possible to go big and hold nothing back.”
For those unfamiliar with the Freeride World Tour, it’s a big deal. I happen to be writing this article from the Swiss Alps, and when I arrived at Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis my guide asked me about whether I attended the annual event in Golden on our first ride up the gondola.
The competition is broadcast internationally and the tour has only gained more prominence since it was acquired by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation — commonly referred to as FIS — in 2022.
Along with the Kicking Horse competition, there were 2024 tour stops planned for Spain, Andorra, Switzerland, Austria and Georgia. The events are broadcast live and around the world and have a massive following in the ski community.
So what exactly does the competition entail?
Since the first event in 2018, ski patrol at Kicking Horse has worked tirelessly to find the best conditions on the most challenging terrain the resort has to offer. Once there, competitors get to the top of the ridge and drop in, choosing however they want to get down.
They’re judged on their line, control, technique, fluidity and their air and style.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you check out the event pages of resorts across Western Canada and the U.S., you’ll see more and more freeskiing and riding events popping up.
And the Freeride World Tour just happens to be the pinnacle.
“Look at Kicking horse, it’s really becoming a hub for hosting freeride events in Canada,” Mosteller said. “It hosts the most freeride events at all levels. Many athletes come from not only across Canada but all the major mountain towns in the U.S. They send teams to the variety of different events that kicking horse has and they know it’s not just that Kicking Horse will host a really great event, but that the terrain is really rad. It’s something they look to, to challenge their skills.”
This weekend, Kicking Horse will be hosting its annual Wrangle the Chute event, which is a freeskiing and riding competition that’s been going on at the resort for years.
The Freeride World Tour itself will make its annual pilgrimage from Feb. 14-20. Anyone interested in checking it out should make sure they’re following along on social media or checking the resort’s website for more information on the exact schedule.