The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont-Blanc 2011 by Swatch went off in Courmayeur on the Italian side of Mont Blanc today.
The world’s best freeriders kicked off the official Freeride World Tour in Courmayeur during a day that boasted an astonishingly high level of action. Although it was difficult to know what the conditions were going to be until they dropped in, riders reported they were really happy to find a face this good despite poor conditions throughout the Alps. The Mont Fortin 300-meter face was crowned by three different starting options and competitors described it as having loads of playful line choices, any of which could have produced the winning run.
At the end the day the competition was dominated by the French who took all three podium spots in Men’s Snowboarding and the top two spots in Men’s Ski.
It was Aurélien Ducroz’s (FRA) fast, smooth line and big, cleanly stomped airs that enabled the Chamonix local to return to glory and put him in the lead to regain his 2009 Freeride World Champion title. Setting the tone of the day, Adrien Coirier (FRA) has returned to 100% after two years of back injuries and opened the day with fast, committed skiing. Coirier’s line also proved to be a successful line for 3rd place Reine Barkered (SWE). "As I was one of the last riders on the start list, I chose to ski a different line that had not yet been ridden to get good snow. It all turned out perfectly. It was pretty tricky at some places where I could not see much of the line (as it was so steep) but I was confident after my thorough inspection yesterday. I started off badly last year in Chamonix so this year I really wanted to win at home grounds and minimum finish 5th. Today I could handle all the pressure better", said Aurelien Ducroz.
In the Men’s Snowboard competition, Freeride World Champion Xavier de Le Rue (FRA) threw down what many thought to be the best run of the day with a fast clean double drop to straight line at the end of his run. With this win, de Le Rue continues his dominance of the Freeride World Tour by extending his streak of consecutive FWT wins to four. "I wanted to start off cool and easy and my choice of line did not seem too hard. Finally it was much more dramatic than expected! I was quite careful at the top as the visibility of the line was poor and above a lot of sluff coming down. The first contest is always difficult, I havn't ridden a big line or dropped anything big recently. I had cotton legs before the start. And it was out of question that I would fall as I did last year in Chamonix".
Although Women all started from the same starting gate their lines were varied with many ladies focusing on fluidity. However, it was the impressive combination of fast, smooth lines combined with a couple of cleanly stuck airs that distanced Angel Collinson (USA) from the rest of the pack. "It was amazing! It’s the third time only that I visually inspect a face before riding it. A very different experience and difficult to know exactly where you are on the face. Everyone is such a good skier you really need to ski your best. It is very cool with the mix of snowboarders and skiers, great social dynamics!".
Today, it was the wild cards who stepped to the plate when Freestyler Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA/SUI), competing in her rookie season of the tour, proved that women snowboarders can rip world class faces with aggressive grace. Second place was also taken by wild card Ursula Wohlschlager (AUT) which puts a new face on the women’s snowboarding division. "The last three days have been very stressful and I’ve been really tense. But when I got to the top of the course I I realized that is what I usually do! I regained my confidence and rode without hesitation. I’m especially glad that tomorrow is my birthday - I’ll have two reasons to celebrate tonight!".