There is a growing movement towards alternative contests in skiing. Call it a diversification of the sport’s collective portfolio, recognition of the small but passionate chorus that always calls for more creativity and less spins. This scene’s most prominent, and probably most important, events are the B&E Invitational, the Bunch’s Creation Nation, and, hopefully now, Red Bull ReDirect.
I think the most important development in competition skiing, which would benefit the industry as a whole, is a scene in which the major competitions – Xgames, Grand Prix, WSI and so on – are offset by a viable circuit of smaller, creativity- and session-based competitions more representative of the actual grass-roots riding that most of us “freeskiers” consume on a daily basis. ReDirect hits Quebec City’s streets on Friday, February 12th, and is ready to face up to the task. We spoke to JF Houle, brought in on the project as a creative advisor, about the competition.
When asked about where the idea came from, he said: “It’s Red Bull. [They] came up to me this Fall and said 'we want to do a core ski event.' It started out we went to check out a few spot, a few locations, and then Red Bull came up with this redirect idea. They had thought about it but never did in the past. They asked me to design the course, to create the concept and invite the rider list. That was a pretty cool experience. Definitely stressful at first, I was like damn, what did I get myself into? Never did anything like it."
JF was heavily involved in the design process. Three weeks at two different locations planning, plotting, building. The goal is to keep it going next year. Make it bigger, “make it sick”.
“I really wanted to get the core people from the urban side,” said JF. “Guys like LSM and Magnus, super looking forward to what they can create, and their style.” The goal was to set up a framework for these skiers to get outside of the box. “To be able to use redirectional transition, to come up with different lines and all that.” He’s attracted a very impressive group of skiers to the event and is already planning for the future: “I think next year people are going to be kind of asking for a spot. Hopefully people will be stoked to come out.”
In designing this event, JF and the folks at Red Bull recognized they needed to find a balance between an alternative competition format and an event that people will want to watch, especially if ReDirect expands to include a live stream in the future. The answer is something that isn’t simply a traditional two-run event, it's an “in between” that shows a core side of the sport at that same time as it’s exciting for the viewers.