The Snow League from Shaun White Looks to Unite Halfpipe Freeskiing and Snowboarding

The Snow League from Shaun White Looks to Unite Halfpipe Freeskiing and Snowboarding

Featured Image: Mike Dawson, Courtesy of The Snow League | Words: Jordan Grant-Krenz

Here’s a headline you never expected to see coming from FREESKIER; Shaun White is starting a new halfpipe competition circuit, and he wants freeskiing to play a critical role.

On Monday, June 17th, White announced his plans to begin The Snow League. This new league will be a global competition format for halfpipe snowboarders & skiers and is set to begin March of 2025. While that might seem far off, it’s only seven short months away. There will be a total of five stops during the first year, with the debut being in the United States, and the remaining four taking place around the world.

No stranger to competition, White is perhaps the most qualified to speak on the ups and downs of current formats. He is a five-time Olympian, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and has a staggering 23 X Games medals, with 15 of them being Gold. To say he knows how to secure the podium would be a prolific understatement. He holds the records for most X Games and Olympic medals won by a snowboarder. But his focus seems to be on boosting younger athletes to heights even he could never reach. “After all my years competing in many different formats,” said White, “I’ve come to realize that snowboarding and freeskiing athletes deserve a legit professional league. Beginning next year, The Snow League will give riders, freeskiers, and sports fans all over the world a destination for what I believe is the most exciting athletic competition in all of sports. Now is the moment to elevate the next generation of winter athletes who are pushing the limits of competition.”

White debuts The Snow League at the Cannes Lions Festival in France | PHOTO: Mike Dawson

Competitive action sports have never brought in the same kind of money for athletes as traditional sports. For a myriad of reasons, riders have received less than their counterparts in other sports. Nick Goepper posted a video detailing this during the winter, as he broke down what his 3rd, 4th, 4th, and 5th place finishes would have earned him in other sports outside of halfpipe skiing. Those results brought him prize money of just over $7,000, hardly enough to pay the bills. This is something White and crew are looking to fix with the creation of The Snow League.

A massive prize purse of over $1.5 million will be distributed throughout the first season. It is the largest the sport has ever seen. $250,000 will be awarded at each event, with athletes earning points for results throughout the winter. These points will dictate the League’s top finishers, and an additional $250,000 will be distributed to these high-performing riders at the end of the season. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. There’s no better way to support athletes than by, well, supporting athletes.

Each competition stop will run as follows:

Day 1: Training Day 

Day 2: Qualifying Day

  • Qualifying day will be a familiar format with riders getting two runs and highest scores advancing but riders will be grouped and the format will utilize pool play to facilitate seeding and increase interest throughout qualifying.

Day 3: Championship Day

  • Eight men and eight women move on to the championship day which features a head-to-head bracket seeded from qualifying day with quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds using a best of three run format.

When considering all these benefits, stops around the world, and immense work to make the whole thing happen, we found it surprising yet delightful that White opted to include freeskiing in The Snow League. This new format could have been only snowboarders, and nobody would have batted an eye. But, thanks to this extra effort, the world’s best halfpipe skiers will be joining the competition midway through the first season. The halfpipe legend attested that, “It was important for me to include freeskiing in The Snow League. Like snowboarding, it’s a young sport, and I feel like the freestyle skiing athletes deserve the same opportunities as the snowboarders. We are cut from the same cloth. I’ve personally enjoyed competing alongside freeskiers and I’m stoked to provide a stage for us all to compete in The Snow League.”

Will Shaun White help bring halfpipe freeskiing to new levels? Only time will tell, but this is a promising start | PHOTO: Courtesy of The Snow League

As more details surrounding The Snow League become clear, FREESKIER will update you on locations, skiers and more. For now, we’re simply stoked that more money and opportunities are heading in the direction of athletes, providing them with a stability that has long been sought after.

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