Smugglers’ Notch has joined the six-stop flagship Ski The East Freeride Tour (STEFT) series for the 2016 season, a competition that offers freeskiers a consistent platform for showing off the best in Northeast extreme skiing.
Prior to the founding of the STEFT in 2010, four competitions were operating independently of one another at Mad River Glen, Magic Mountain, Sugarbush, and Jay Peak. Sugarloaf joined the tour in 2015.
“There were existing events at different mountains that had a big following, and we saw a cool opportunity to sync those events, create overall rankings, and figure out who the best male and female skiers are for the year,” Ski The East’s Chris James told SnoCountry.com. It is an opportunity to have skiers try new events at different mountains.
Freeskiing was just starting to gain momentum in 2010 with a rise in ski technology, the popularity of side and backcountry skiing, and the development of resort freesking teams.
Competitors are only categorized as male or female, and you can get down the mountain any way you chose; skis, snowboard, or tele gear are all accepted. One run down the mountain is judged on a one to 10 scale for line, fluidity, control, style, and technique.
In a year that has offered below-average snowfall, competitors will face some challenging conditions. The run is always held on a natural snow trail, and the rough terrain will take skill and finesse.
A $1,000 prize purse is up for grabs to the top three male and female competitors at each of the six stops. The Best Line “Headliner Award” presented by Bern Unlimited is awarded to the most impressive line or cliff drop of the day.
An overall male and female STEFT champ is crowned at Jay Peak, and with that comes a one-year contract as an athlete on the Ski The East Team.
The STEFT aligned with International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA) in 2015, allowing all STEFT competitions to become officially sanctioned Freeride World Qualifier events. STEFT athletes who become IFSA members gain points towards qualifying for competing in national and international events.
Mad River Glen, Feb. 20
Magic Mountain, Feb. 27
Sugarbush: March 5
Smugglers’ Notch: March 6
Sugarloaf: March 12
Jay Peak: March 19-20
Photos: Top -- The Ski The East Freeride Tour offers unconventional terrain challenges at each of its six stops. (Ski The East/Facebook); Below: Competition is held on natural snow slopes only and that can be gnarly this winter. (Ski The East/Facebook)