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FREERIDE WORLD TOUR UPDATE: ROUNDS 1 & 2

This year, our friends over at Peak Performance are sponsoring the Swatch Freeride World Tour! The prestigious tour is an annual series of events where the World’s top freeskiers and snowboard freeriders come to test themselves in the backcountry on steep, dangerous, big mountain terrain. Judged on an increment of 0-100 for five criteria; the Line, the Air&Style, the Fluidity, the Control, and the Technique, the athletes compete for individual event wins as well as overall World Champion titles in their disciplines.


 

So far, competitors have battled it out at 2 of the 5 event locations on their route to the finals in Verbier, Switzerland; Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra, and Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France, showing some outstanding riding and providing us with some real edge-of-your-seat viewing. If you missed the first couple of stops on the tour, here’s a quick recap on events so far…

 

Round 1: Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra

22.01.2016

2016 is the second time the Swatch Freeride World Tour has stopped at Vallnord-Arcalis, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Fast becoming the most important freeride destination in the Pyrenees, 61 professional athletes – both men and women, across both ski and snowboard disciplines – flocked to the resort to take on the challenge on the staggering Costa Negre face.

 

After a relatively slow start to the season, the Snow Gods came through for Vallnord-Arcalis and a recent snow-storm dumped on the Andorran resort covering the treacherous peaks ready for the riders on the Freeride World Tour.

 

On the day of the event, blue skies with some high cloud and soft snow underfoot made for some first-rate riding conditions. As the first major event of the season the athlete’s anticipation was teeming and everyone was raring to go, keen to put down their best lines for the first time this winter.

 

With shadey aspects providing excellent riding conditions but sunny faces causing some inconsistency, riders were challenged not only in terrain but also changing consistency in the snowpack. The impressive Costa Negre face presented athletes with a combination of severe gradients, tight couloirs and long run-outs, as well as numerous options for big air. After a short hike from the Basera chairlift, riders were confronted with 400m vertical meters at 40* from the 2680m summit; a challenging descent and plenty of opportunity to showcase their creative riding.

Results:

MEN'S FREESKI:

1st - Kirstoffer Turdell – SWE (90.50) (pictured)

2nd - Jérémie Heitz – SUI (87.50)

3rd - Ivan Malahkov – RUS (86.62)

 

 

Riders came out with an extremely high standard, combining high speed technical runs with creative freestyle tricks, making the most of the big air opportunities the face presented them with, and making for a tight competition. Peak Performance rider Kirstoffer Turdell pipped Jérémie Heitz to first place with an impressive full-throttle line and huge air, whilst Ivan Malahkov came in third for his risky line of technical difficult and big airs.

WOMEN'S FREESKI:

1st - Jaclyn Paason – USA (70.00)

2nd - Eva Walkner – AUT (68.50)

3rd - Evelina Nilsson – SWE (66.75)

 

As expected, USA’s Jaclyn Paaso went big, sending it with some huge airs and beating former champion Eva Walkner and her creative line, to the top spot. Rookie Evelina Nilsson from Sweden demonstrated her ability for solid riding in various conditions, podiuming third overall.

MEN'S SNOWBOARD FREERIDE:

1st - Sascha Hamm – GBR (81.75)

2nd - Christoffer Granbom – SWE (80.00)
3rd - Camille Armand – FRA (78.25)

 

London’s own Sascha Hamm stormed the competition with a series of big airs from the summit to take the top spot, whilst Swede Christoffer Granbom took second place with a powerful run that showcased his ability to master the difficult conditions. 22 year old Camille Armand seized third with a smooth backflip in an impressive run.

WOMEN'S SNOWBOARD FREERIDE:

1st - Estelle Balet – SUI (70.00)

2nd - Marion Haetry – FRA (65.00)

3rd - Mikaela Hollsten – FIN (53.25)

 

Proving her creative riding ability once again, reigning champion Estelle Balet stayed on top, whilst Marion Haetry was pushed into second place after her impressive line ended with some loose riding towards the finish line. Former Olympian Kjerski Buaas (NOR) was topped off the podium by Nikaela Hollsten claiming third place after a strong run.

Round 2: Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France

05.02.2016

For the second stop of the Tour, competitors flocked to the proclaimed freeride mecca of the world, Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Competitors took on the impressive Aiguille Pourrie face and with near perfect conditions of bluebird skies and 50-100cm of fresh snow above 2500m, it definitely proved its legendary status. Famed for its rich skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering heritage, and such a storied location for freeriding, Chamonix is a special stop of the tour for many athletes.

 

After a rocky start to the season, winter has picked up in recent weeks, and heavy snow blanketed many of the peaks in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc range, giving lines above 2500m elevation soft powder to ride. This said, there was still some hard pack areas of the Auguille Pourrie face due to wind, and this presented challenging conditions underfoot for the athletes.

MEN'S FREESKI:

1st - Loïc Collomb-Patton – FRA (89.33)

2nd - Logan Pehota – CAN (86.66)

3rd - Fabio Studer – AUT (85.00)

 

With top riders such as Jérémie Heitz (SUI) and George Rodney (USA) taking big crashes on airs, the field opened up and Peak Performance sponsored rider Loïc Collomb-Patton took home his third victory in Chamonix with a strong line and an impressive backflip. Logan Pehota also stomped a clean line with some big tricks, podiuming second. Bringing his new-school style, Fabio Studer impressed spectators with stylish spins and big airs, taking third place.

 

WOMEN'S FREESKI:

1st - Eva Walkner – AUT (83.00)

2nd - Silvia Moser – ITA (80.00)

3rd - Matilda Rappaport – SWE (76.66)

 

Former World champion Eva Walkner brought home another victory at Chamonix at this stop of the tour, again showcasing her powerful, technical skiing ability. Talented Silvia Moser demonstrated her style with two massive airs, earning her second place, whilst Peak Performance rider Matilda Rappaport podiumed in third confirming her skill, riding with authority and smooth, experienced style.

 

MEN'S SNOWBOARD FREERIDE:

1st -Sammy Leubke – USA (92.00)

2nd - Jamie Rizzuto – CAN (90.33)

3rd - Ralph Backstrom – USA (89.33)

 

North America cleaned up at the Chamonix men’s snowboard podium; reigning champion Sammy Leubke took first place with two massive 360’s, whilst Jamie Rizzuto charged down the face with a confident pace and massive air, claiming second. The third spot on the podium was taken by veteran rider Ralph Backstrom with his smooth riding and creative line.

WOMEN'S SNOWBOARD FREERIDE:

1st - Anne-Flore Marxer – SUI-FRA (84.00)

2nd - Estelle Balet – SUI (80.33)

3rd - Marion Haetry – FRA (76.66)

 

After the last showdown at Vallnord-Arcalis, the female snowboarders help nothing back when taking on the Aiguille Pourrie face. Renowned rider Anne-Flore Marxer came back into the limelight, charging her way into first place with a solid, fast line. Current leader and World champion Estelle Balet had a beautiful run down, taking on a sizeable cliff but coming out with second place. Whilst rookie Marion Haetry conveyed an exceptional line through technical terrain without hesitation, earning her a second podium of the Tour.


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