Top 5 Friday December 9, 2022: Lead Image

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Top Five Fridays: December 9, 2022

Lead Image: As Freeride World Tour athletes, organizers, coaches, and fans peer into the future, it's hard to see what exactly we should expect in light of this week's major announcement. Image: Freeride World Tour on Facebook

#1: FIS World Cup Updates - Consistency is the Key for Both Circuits:

Top Five Fridays December 9, 2022: Ryan Cochran-Siegle Beaver Creek Downhill Image

Ryan Cochran-Siegle putting in another noteworthy performance at last weekend's downhill race in Beaver Creek. Photo shot by Dustin Satloff for U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team

Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the December 9th, 2022 edition! This week competitive news is in full swing as we bring you coverage of last weekend’s FIS Alpine Races, some massive news from the Freeride World Tour, and an update in regards to Salt Lake’s Winter Olympic bid. To start, let’s check in with the women’s side of the FIS World Tour, where Lake Louise hosted two downhill races and a super g last weekend. All in all, it was another solid showing from the U.S. women, with both Isabella Wright and Breezy Johnson earning points in each of the three races. Kicking off the weekend, Isabella Wright took home 13th place in the downhill race, followed by Breezy Johnson who finished in a tie for 16th. A day later, Wright earned an 18th place finish with Johnson finishing in 26th. Finally, on the third day of competition, Johnson edged out Wright by .01 seconds, as she secured 23rd while Johnson grabbed 24th in the super g. For those who are wondering, Shiffrin did not compete in Lake Louise. Looking ahead, the women are currently in Sestriere, Italy, for a giant slalom and slalom race. You can check out a full list of results from Lake Louise here, or preview this weekend’s races here.

On the men’s side of the sport, it was a similar story as no U.S. athletes cracked the podium, although four earned points across two races. The highlight of the weekend came in the downhill race, the first of two events on the weekend. In that race, Ryan Cochran-Siegle secured a 7th place finish, earning valuable points as he looks to remain competitive in the overall standings. Following his lead in that race, Bryce Bennett and Travis Ganong also secured points, finishing in 26th and 27th place respectively. A day later, River Radamus continued to show up for the U.S., finishing in 16th place in a super g race. Again, while we’re eager and anxious for the day in which we can share podium results from the mens’ team (and that day is coming), it bears repeating that results like this are still valuable as earning points is the name of the game when it comes to year end results. Looking forward, the men find themselves in Val d'Isere, France for a slalom and giant slalom race. You can preview those events here, and check out last weekend’s results here.

#2: BREAKING NEWS: The FIS Has Just Acquired the Freeride World Tour:

Next up this week we have some absolutely massive news coming out of the Freeride World Tour: it has just been acquired by the FIS. For those unfamiliar, the Freeride World Tour is a competitive freeride skiing league where athletes compete to put down the best line down a big mountain face. In our minds, it’s one of the most challenging, pure, and rawest forms of competition in the ski world, as it requires an array of skills to be put to the test on a totally untamed face. We’ve been fans of the league for years, and frequently share Freeride World Tour news here on Top Five Fridays. All of that said, the fact that we feel compelled to continuously provide context for the league really sums up our next comment: the Freeride World Tour has always lacked the exposure that it deserves. This week, it was announced that the FIS has acquired the Freeride World Tour, with the overarching goal of bolstering its presence.

Now, there is a ton to unpack here, and this acquisition is going to be viewed very differently depending on who you are. As a writer who both aims to remain unbiased, and who also coaches IFSA (International Freeskiesr and Snowboarders Association) athletes at Mad River Glen who compete in the lower levels of the Freeride World Tour, my aim is to simply share both viewpoints regarding this story. First, let’s talk about why this makes sense for both the Freeride World Tour and the FIS. If you follow along with Top Five Fridays, then you know that the man leading the charge at the FIS is Johan Eliasch, the former Head Skis CEO whose stated goal is to bring global interest in FIS sports up to Formula 1 and PGA levels. In other words, for Eliasch, gaining exposure and visibility for FIS sports is a top priority. This is why he’s ruffled feathers by renegotiating broadcasting rights, and also why he’s brought more FIS events to the U.S. this year than in any other previous year. With this in mind, it makes a lot of sense that the FIS would want to acquire a global ski and snowboard league like the Freeride World Tour that features a category of skiing which hadn’t existed under the FIS umbrella. Add in the fact that while big mountain skiing is far from, and may never be, an Olympic sport, ski mountaineering is, which means the concept of skiing big mountains is at the very least growing in popularity amongst mainstream audiences.

For the Freeride World Tour, this acquisition also makes sense. While the FWT has grown in popularity in recent years, and the league has made great strides in developing its competition format as well as the flow through its development leagues such as IFSA, the Freeride World Qualifiers, and Freeride Junior Tour, the league itself remains somewhat of a niche event within skiing. Despite being one of the most entertaining competitions to watch, as each run features high level, adrenaline pumping, and creative line choices, it’s far from being a mainstream discipline in the world of skiing. As such, both the event organizers and employees, as well as the athletes themselves, are missing out on all of the benefits that come with being a mainstream sports league. Media coverage, exposure, sponsorship funding, and in this case, even access to government funding- all of these opportunities have just exploded in potential due to this acquisition. In other words, while nothing earth shattering has happened in terms of the financial side of the sport yet, the expectation is very much that this move will provide drastically greater financial opportunities to all involved.

That’s the rosy side of the story. The other side of the story is that there is significant concern that this move will bring about the death of something incredible. Whether you’re reading comments in internet forums, or Facebook posts from those involved in the sport itself, there’s a certain amount of trepidation in regards to what this means to the future of the sport. Historically speaking, the FIS has a track record of subduing the “free” aspect of freestyle and freeskiing, reducing the creative element of these sports to a strict formulaic criteria. In the Freeride World Tour, judging is accomplished via a system that awards points to each athlete based on how they skied according to a baseline figure which is set by their line choice. It’s a somewhat complex, somewhat subjective approach and for those who haven’t been brought up in the world of freeride competition, it may feel too haphazard or loose to move forward with. But to those involved, the system is a truly effective way to rank the overall impression of what’s inherently a very subjective sport. In this way, there are very real and legitimate concerns that the FIS could play too heavy of a hand someday in the future, ultimately ruining the beauty of the sport. There are other concerns as well, such as whether drug testing will be required which would eliminate the participation of athletes who use marijuana recreationally, even if it is legal where they call home. Or the ability of the FIS to choose proper venues for the sport, should they decide to expand its schedule beyond the five events each year. Or even a potential shakeup in how events themselves are formatted, as the Freeride World Tour has continued to test different event formats and point systems in recent years. Ultimately, the list goes on and on, with each concern being valid.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to tell what this means for the future of the Freeride World Tour. For at least the season ahead, no noticeable changes are expected to be made as athletes, the schedule, and the scoring format are all set in stone. There is a chance that this news will result in more media exposure for the Tour this year, but we expect to see the first signs of real change to happen in the off season. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, we highly recommend tuning in to watch each of the five stops this season- it may end up being the last of its kind. For more on this, check out the press releases from the Freeride World Tour, as well as the FIS.

#3: Salt Lake City’s Bid to Host the 2030 Olympics is Growing in Promise:

Top Five Fridays December 9, 2022: Utah Olympic Park Image

With competing venues experiencing issues of their own, Salt Lake City appears to be becoming the best option for hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics. Image: Utah Olympic Park on Facebook

Tired of competitive ski news? Well, too bad, because we’ve got one more highlight on the topic this week as we’ve learned a little more in regards to Salt Lake’s 2030 Winter Olympic Bid. The last time we checked in on this story, U.S. Olympic legends Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety had both voiced and shown their support for bringing the Winter Olympics back to Salt Lake City, Utah. Adding to this legendary support, controversial superstar Eileen Gu, who grew up skiing in the United States but decided to compete for China in 2022, has also backed the U.S.’s Olympic Bid. While the U.S. Olympic Committee is open to hosting the event in either 2030 or 2034, the view has been that a 2030 hosting was unlikely due to the 2028 being held in Los Angeles, CA. With that in mind, it was commonly believed that the Olympics would try to avoid hosting the games in the United States in both 2028 and 2030, making a 2034 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics seemingly more likely.

While no determinations have been made, we caught an article from this week that suggests that it’s actually the 2030 option which is growing in potential. As it stands, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, and Sapporo, Japan are the three cities competing for Winter Olympic bids in 2030 and 2034. Of the three, Salt Lake City has the most support from its government and local leaders, as well as existing infrastructure resulting from the continued use of several of the venues constructed for the 2002 Games. In addition to Salt Lake City being well positioned, the other two nations are facing challenges of their own. In Japan, there’s an ongoing scandal regarding illegitimate payments being made to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As a result, Japan is not currently in the IOC’s good graces, making it extremely unlikely that they’ll be awarded the 2030 Games. For Vancouver’s part, while the games have support from the region’s Indigenous leaders, the British Columbian government has said that it won’t support the bid due to the cost of hosting the games. Without government support, it’s also incredibly unlikely that Vancouver will win the bid. With Japan on the ropes due to an ongoing scandal, and Vancouver likely out due to a lack of government support, it looks as though Salt Lake City, UT is shaping up to not only become the best choice, but also the only choice for the games. While we’ll likely have to wait until Fall 2023 to know for sure, things are looking promising for those hoping the Winter Games will return to the U.S. sooner rather than later. To learn more about this, check out the report from

#4: People Like Annette Diggs Are Exactly What Skiing Needs in Order to Become More Inclusive:

Top Five Fridays December 9, 2022: EDGE Outdoors Image

In addition to working part time as a ski instructor at Stevens Pass, Diggs also runs EDGE Outdoors, a nonprofit organization providing opportunities for Black, Indigienous, women of color. Image: EDGE Outdoors Facebook Group

Finally, we end this week by switching gears away from the competitive side of our sport and focusing on a story that takes a deeper dive into the human side of it. This week, the Seattle Times published an article telling the story of Annette Diggs, a Black ski instructor at Stevens Pass, and the CEO & Founder of EDGE Outdoors, a non-profit organization working to diversify the classically white male demographic of skiing. Diggs’s story is one that we suspect many non-white skiers can relate to. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee and without an exceptional amount of money, Diggs experienced very little exposure to the great outdoors, let alone skiing. But, she was curious, and so when her family moved to Las Vegas, she found herself spending hours at the library reading National Geographic magazines and experiencing a growing sense of wonder in regards to the mountains. As you might imagine, the media she was consuming at the time featured very few individuals that looked like her. Fast forward a handful of years, and in 2013 Diggs finally visited Mount Rainier, her first National Park, where her mind was promptly blown. Then, four years later, Diggs found herself struggling to hike down a snowy Mount Adams when a group of skiers whizzed past her; a moment in which she credits with sparking her desire to ski. All of this is to say, for Diggs to have even discovered skiing in the first place, was a bit of a miracle, owed in part to her own innate attraction to the great outdoors, and a fateful life journey.

We share these details of Diggs’s journey so that when we share her first experience on snow, it’s easier to understand how high the barriers to entry can be for people who are non-white, trying to enter a predominantly white sport. In her first ski lesson, Diggs recalls immediately being aware of how dominant the white male presence is in our sport. At a time when she should have had the space to focus entirely on learning how to ski, she found herself feeling scrutinized simply for being there at all. In that moment, Diggs decided that despite not knowing how to ski, she wanted to become a ski instructor so that she could make the sport more accessible to Black people as well as other non-white and non-binary skiers. As a result, she applied to become an instructor the very same winter she learned how to ski. In her interview, Diggs pitched Alicia O’Donnell, the manager of seasonal programs and private lessons at Stevens Pass, on the idea of Diggs becoming a ski instructor as a way of providing representation for new skiers. For O’Donnell, the idea of someone applying for a ski instructing job with deeper motivation than simply getting a free pass made an immediate impression on her. The decision was a no brainer: Diggs was hired.

Now in her fifth year at Stevens Pass, Diggs continues to be a part time ski instructor, working to make new non-white skiers feel more included. By simply being a familiar face on the slopes, she’s opened the door to many who might have otherwise been introduced to it by way of an uncomfortable, intimidating experience. Driven by her inner mission, Diggs’s efforts haven’t stopped with her on-hill employment. In addition to instructing, Diggs also operates EDGE Outdoors, a non-profit that offers a number of programs to support and promote “Black, Indigenous, Women of Color,” within the ski and snowboarding industry. As part of their mission, EDGE offers a number of different scholarships and grants to provide opportunities at several levels of the sport and hosts guided adventures and events that give Black, Indigenous, Women of Color a space to connect as a community. All told, Diggs is doing amazing work and we loved learning about her story. To learn more for yourself, check out the writeup from the Seattle Times, or check out the EDGE Outdoors website.

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: What Happens When You Bring Rising Giant Slalom Superstar River Radamus to Alaska? Only Good Things:

Deviate Films Returns for Their Third Film, This Time Featuring Chameleons!

“The Joy of Skiing” From Malou Peterson Truly is a Joy to Watch:

Finally, in The Bunch’s 11th Film, “Many Fantasies Later,” the Crew Puts Their Development Both Behind and in Front of the Lens on Full Display:

Written by Matt McGinnis on 12/09/22

One thought on “Top Five Fridays: December 9, 2022

  1. Great article about Annette Diggs..

    But lets not forget out local activities in this area. The Albany NY area has it own not-for-profit involve in introducing the people of color to winter sports - the Nubian Empire ski club. They have been around for about 20 years and now have been featured on the front page of our local newspaper, the Daily Gazette, in an article about a grant they have received to further promote winter sports. Hopefully you can see this link -

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