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Taking a page from Doug Perry’s event management style, Hale-Wood has devoted the last few years to developing mountain-based events that combine adrenaline sports, live music and cutting-edge youth culture. And by all accounts, he’s been hugely successful at it. “I really enjoy competing at his events,” says local big-mountain hero, Ian Macintosh. “What I like most is that he really runs a tight ship. The vibe is totally relaxed, but the organizers are total professionals.”
So there you have it. Anyway, Hale-Wood has just put the finishing touches on a global circuit of big-mountain ski-and-snowboard contests with stops at some of the world’s most prestigious resorts — places like Verbier and Tignes in France and Mammoth Mountain in California. Even Sochi, Russia is on board. Boasting high-profile sponsors and extensive European TV distribution, Nicolas told me he’d had little problem convincing his partner-resorts to get involved. “I was treated like a king at Mammoth,” he says, marvelling at how excited the Californians were to be included in the mix. “These guys really rolled out the red carpet for me…”
Maybe that’s because they’d heard how energized both the riders and sponsors were about the new circuit. Listen to Guerlain Chicherit, four-time freeride world champion and stage winner on the ’06 Paris–Dakar Rally: “I’ve been waiting for a long time for a real World Tour that is professionally organized and has sponsors that deserve the name ‘sponsor’,” he told me recently. “Now it is finally born and I’m ready to give it my unconditional support.”
Then there’s Peter Mager of Swatch: "We’ve been part of the extreme sports world for many years,” he said. “And we know what Hale-Wood and his team can do. That’s why we’re so proud to be part of this new freeride adventure."
A savvy event promoter. Happy sponsors. A lucrative TV deal. And the whole-hearted support of the world’s best freeriders. So what’s not to love?
That’s why, Nicolas admitted, he was totally flummoxed by his reception at Whistler. “I checked with my friends at the IOC, and they told me exactly which guy I should speak with,” he said. “And at first he seemed receptive… then something changed.”
He told me he was all set to travel here to meet with the appropriate municipal mucky mucks, when an e-mail from muni hall stopped him dead in his tracks. Here’s what it said (remember: this is even before he’d had a chance to make an initial presentation):