StaticI don't get the appeal of the fwt, maybe it's the competitive aspect of it, but it just seems like a stupid choice to ski tracked out shit and risk getting broke off for an event that hardly anyone pays attention to; When all that time an energy could be spent skiing pow and getting immortalized on a magazine cover or timeless movie segment.
Many of the guys on the FWT would like to eventually ski with MSP/TGR. It is VERY difficult to get one of those AK heli spots, they are taken. The list of big name big mountain film skiers who started out in contests in endless. In the late 90's most of the big name guys, McConkey, Davenport, Seth, Kreitler, Gov, Swany were pretty much ALL contest guys too. Ian Mac and Hugo Harrison are other examples, as are Henrik Windstedt and Cody Townsend. It is very hard to break into the big mountain film scene, there are too few heli spots and too many guys who can throw down, and if a film company is not paying for your trip how are you going to get top level big mountain shots? Unless you are wealthy enough to pay for your own heli time that won't happen. You need sponsors to get in those helis, and in order to get sponsors you need exposure, it is a catch-22.
Lots of guys stop doing contests once they make it big in films, simply because big mountain filming takes lots of time. Guys often spend 6 weeks in AK trying to get 10-12 days of filming, if they are lucky. Seth Morrison started out doing contests, and I remember back in 2002 he came back and did the Crested Butte event, his first contest in years. He skied cautiously because he had an entire AK filming season ahead of him, but still threw down. Once you are on the level of a Sage or an Abma you spend so much of your winter traveling that it is really not possible to do the FWT. Guys tend to use the FWT as a stepping stone to filming, then stop competing. So while someone might want to pursue being a big mountain skier in MSP/TGR films, without contest results it is very hard to get the chance. Most of the big mountain guys either come from contests, or they were great park skiers who came from big mountains (CR, Candide, Sammy, Abma, T. Hall, Pep,...) and could ALSO ski big mountain. That second group already had sponsors in place, so they could get together the funding to get a heli spot. If you are just trying to make it as a big mountain skier, with no park background and sponsorship, and you don't have comp results it is nearly impossible. Like I said before, there are very few spots in those helis, and MSP/TGR don't like to take chances, they want to use guys they know can throw down. If you go to the park at Mammoth or Breck and film an unknown and he does not produce it is not THAT big of a deal. If you take someone on a 4 week trip to AK and they don't produce that is a disaster. So it is not like guys have a choice between competing and filming, without competition results they will probably NEVER get the chance to film. Unless you are wealthy enough to self finance heli trips for years, AND have multiple filmers, you won't be able to do it. Just ripping around the resort with a gopro will not get you an sponsor financed month in Ak. Markus Eder and Richard Permin are other examples of guys who have done FWT events.
There do exist guys who have made it in big mountain without park sponsorship or contests, but they are few and far between. Sage is one of the few guys who has been able to do it. He hit Pyramid gap for TGR and they were so impressed they gave him a shot. He was a dishwasher at Alta at the time. Jeremy Nobis filmed in AK with TGR before doing any big mountain contests, but he had sponsors and was a former Olympian. As legend has it TGR was pretty much forced by Dynastar to film Nobis. During his first day filming he laid down the "turn of the century" on a line called Pyramid and (along with Shane McConkey) ushered in the new age of fat skis. I don't know if Hoji has ever done any contests, but his first film segments were actually mostly park if you can believe that.
The bottom line is that those contest guys don't have the chance to make a choice between spending the winter filming in AK and interior BC with MSP/TGR or doing contests. They are probably doing contests in order to get the chance to film with TGR/MSP. It would really be nice if there were more big mountain film companies. There are more great athletes than there are heli spots. Look at Kye Peterson, he might well be one of the 5 best skiers in the world, his segment in All.I.Can was insane, but he does not always get much film time. Hopefully Numinous will get him enough exposure that he can put out something big every year.
If the FWT guys could film instead, lots of them would. They don't have that choice.