Compentating - it’s not a spelling mistake, just a bad pun. Commentating ski competitions, but not your everyday competitions- in fact a lot of the time I spend explaining exactly what the sport of Freeriding is and what’s going on in the competitions. The Freeride World Tour (FWT) is the top level of competitive freeriding that quickly established itself as the career goal for any skier who wants to throw down on the big stage against some of the most well-known names of the sport. But what is this sport?
Imagine you were standing at the top of an intimidating mountain face, looking down at cliffs and chutes that you had only seen from the bottom, and I can guarantee that they look a whole lot scarier from the top. Would you be able to ski quickly and confidently towards them, maybe even do a trick off them, control your speed with good technique after landing and ride it out all the way to the bottom? It’s more difficult than it sounds, and it doesn’t sound easy. If you could do those things you would score well.
And where do I come into all this? I did my first freeride competition in New Zealand in 2006 and came to Europe to chase the Freeride World Qualifier series in 2010. I managed to qualify from the FWQ in 2011, competed on the FWT from 2012 to 2015. You need to finish in the top two thirds of the field to stay on the tour… it’s tough up there! In 17I18 I was invited to be a commentator for the FWT (because I have a ‘face for radio’ as it was jokingly said at the time) I think that being a first language English speaker with over a decade of understanding of and passion for Freeriding probably had something to do with it too.
So what’s it like you may ask? Well the good part is that I get to go to these impressive events, hang out with old and new friends and be stoked for every impressive run that goes down- a much easier job than judging. The tough part is that it’s sometimes difficult not be jealous that I’m not in the spotlight anymore, and that I never put down a run I was really happy with on the FWT.Mein Job als Kommentator bringt einige Vorteile mit sich: Ich habe die Chance tolle Events zu besuche, treffe alte und neue Freunde und kann bei den Runs mitfiebern – was viel einfacher ist, als sie zu bewerten! Der schwierige Teil ist, nicht eifersüchtig zu sein, dass ich dabei nicht mehr selbst im Rampenlicht stehe, oft würde ich gerne noch selbst einen richtigen guten Run bei diesem Bewerb hinlegen.
So why do it if it can hurt so much? My answer would be it’s the same reason we love anything or anyone- it doesn’t feel like a choice and it can bring you the happiest moments of your life. Now I’m watching other people experience these moments I can empathise with them through the highs and the lows and try to communicate that to the viewing public with emotive words. You can see the action with your eyes anyway, but I hope that my words can be transformed by your ears into the emotions that the riders are feeling- tune into FreerideWorldTour.com for the next event and let me know if I’m doing a good job.
- Neil Williman