The Air Up There

Freestyle Snocross blasts off

October 2002 Feature RYAN?PEACOCK

Alot of people watched two different bikers nail back flips at the last X games. The sport of freestyle motocross exploded in the past few years, gaining fans and even starting its own freestyle tour. But did you know that people were doing back flips on sleds before any biker did it? Where's the sledders' freestyle tour?

Well now there is one. The brand new International Freestyle Snowcross Association (IFSA) announced that it is starting a Freestyle Snocross (FSX) tour this winter.

Here's how FSX works: all the events start with 15 invited riders who get to practice from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The competition starts at 8 p.m. All 15 riders compete in the first heat with a 1-minute run. The top five from the first heat qualify directly for the main event.

The remaining 10 riders compete in a last-chance qualifier. They get one more minute to show what they can do and the top three in this qualifier get to join the other five in the main event.

The eight finalists compete in a 2-minute final run. They compete in reverse order of how they qualified, meaning that the top scorer in the first heat will be the last person to compete in the final.

The riders are judged on style, degree of difficulty, continuity, amplitude and originality. The scores are based on the following: 50 percent towards the number of tricks and their timing on the run, 20 percent to the showmanship of the run and 30 percent to the degree of difficulty of the tricks.

Each event will have two to five judges who assign points from 0-100. Their scores are averaged to get the final score for a run.

The winner gets 20 percent of the purse and the rest is shared between the other 14 riders. The minimum prize for last place will be $500. Minimum purse will be $10,000.



IFSA will consist of riders, team owners, media reps and other industry people who will help establish parameters, competitions, exhibitions and scoring templates for competitions. It was formed by president and CEO Grant Reeves who teamed up with Clear Channel Communications and the Super SnowCross circuit to make freestyle snocross a reality.

IFSA's mission is to increase the value of the athletes who compete in FSX through promotion, marketing, safety and professional event management. It wants to project a clean, safe image of its riders and its sport and provide wholesome family entertainment. To that end, IFSA has also teamed with The Braaap Pack, the industry's first freestyle snowmobile team. The Braaap Pack was organized in 2001 to develop safe and professional freestyle exhibitions. Many of the members of the Braaap Pack will be competitors on the FSX circuit.



Who are the people who risk injury to themselves and their sleds doing tricks four stories in the air? It would be easy to call them crazy or stupid but the truth is they aren't either. They're mostly like us-people who just want to ride.

For instance, Jim Fejes, Jr. (aka Blaze), is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who owns his own construction company. He works hard for four months during the summer so he can play on his sled all winter. He started riding a Kitty Cat when he was four so he has 17 years of experience.

He practices during the summer, riding a dirt bike off a dirt ramp, a jet ski off a floating ramp and even a sled over wood chips. He loves to sled and likes to snowmobile with friends just like the rest of us.

He is a member of the Braaap Pack and is a great ambassador for the sport of freestyle snowmobiling. He watched videos about snowmobiling during the long Alaskan winter nights and realized he was already doing all the tricks he saw on the videos. He went to North Dakota to try out for the team and made it.

Blaze forms a partnership whenever he picks up sponsors. He doesn't just use their equipment, he gives them feedback on it. He teaches the sponsors what a freestyle sled needs and how it should feel and they come back to him with what he needs.

Because of this partnership, Blaze has been able to pick up sponsors like Yamaha, who designed a freestyle Viper with an experimental suspension that Blaze says is the most incredible jumping sled he's ever seen. He also is working with Coldwave, Stud Boy, Ultra 3 Flex Skis (his name is molded into the plastic of the ski), Power Madd, Rocks and Tek-Vest who will design a new vest to protect the freestyle rider.

The first event is in the middle of December and you can get more information on or about FSX, the IFSA and the Braaap Pack team.

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