The final stage of the Freeride World Tour (FWT), the mythical Nissan Xtreme will take place in Verbier, on the Bec des Rosses Sunday, March 22nd. Yesterday the riders climbed to the top to check out the Bec des Rosses and draw their bibs....
After the three Freeride World Tour stops in Sochi, Russia, Squaw Valley, USA and Tignes, France, only the top eight men and three women were qualified in each category. They will be joined by several "Wild Cards" as well as the winners from the Nendaz Freeride, Freeride World Qualifier and sister event to the Verbier Nissan Xtreme.
Although the title in men’s skiing is still up for grabs the Freeride World Champion 2009 in Snowboard is Xavier de Le Rue (FRA), who also won in 2008. He is of course the favorite for the grand finale in Verbier, where he lives for much of the year, and on a face that he particularly loves. The winner of the Nissan Freeride de Tignes last week, he continues to impress everyone with his line choice which are tough and fast. With Cyril Neri’s unfortunate injury (winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure 2009 and multiple winner of the Nissan Xtreme - Verbier), the second and third spots on the podium will be fought over by the Swiss contenders, Alex Coudray and Jonas Emery, as well as the Austrians, Max Zipser and Flo Orley. Another to watch out for, Matt Annetts (USA), the underdog who has done well in the FWQ events in the USA.
For the skiers, the door is wide open as the top 6 in the Freeride World Ranking can still mathematically win the title. Aurelien Ducroz (FRA), current leader and Nissan Sports Adventure athlete, is one of the favorites in Verbier as he won on this face in 2006 and is striving for the Freeride World Champion title. Right behind him, the competition is tough with the Swedes, Reine Barkered (winner in Squaw Valley), Henrik Windstedt (reigning Freeride World Champion 2008) and Sverre Liliequist (winner in Sochi) all battling it out for the title. The outsider for this event is Matthias Haunholder (AUT), who won last week in Tignes, as well as the Frenchmen, Sebastien Michaud (6th), Thibault Duchosal (7th) and Thomas Diet (8th), who took 2nd in Tignes.
In the women’s snowboard, Susan Mol (USA), winner in Squaw Valley, and Aline Bock (GER), winner in Sochi and this season’s revelation will fight for the title. Nathalie Zenklusen (SUI), currently 3rd, could also surprise us. However, for the grand finale, the favorite is definitely Geraldine Fasnacht who has already won several times in Verbier and made her come-back last week winning in Tignes.
For the women’s ski title, the Scandinavians should create some suspense with Marja Persson (SWE), current leader and Ane Enderud (NOR), currently 4th. However, they are closely followed by the Americans, Elyse Saugstad, winner in Squaw Valley, and Jess McMillan, winner in Sochi, who have the taste for victory. Caroline Meynet (FRA) who climbed to 2nd on the FWR after having won in Tignes, could also win on this technical face.