As the fifth and last event of the Freeride World Tour prior to the big season finale in Verbier, Switzerland next weekend, every rider who dropped into the 600-meter Wildseeloder face at the Swatch Big Mountain Fieberbrunn by Nissan had something on the line. Some needed to score enough points to get an invitation to Verbier while those at the top of the ranking were going for the win in order to break into the lead for the overall title. Today four Austrians dominated the podium with Stefan Hausl (AUT) and Mitch Toelderer (AUT) taking the top step with solid, exciting runs down the challenging face.
Faced with a long, demanding venue with less than perfect snow, today’s event was notable due to the riders who played it safe by focusing on fluid lines to preserve their position in the rankings. Others, on the other hand charged the course with everything they had in order to score the critical points that would boost them towards the top of the rankings.
Austrian rider Stefan Hausl was clearly one of the latter, charging hard, and took the lead early with a crowd-pleasing line that started with a cleanly landed 15-meter air, and followed with a fast and fluid line from top to bottom ending with a big, old-school "Spread Eagle" trick at the bottom. Reine Barkered (SWE) came in second followed by Fieberbrunn’s native son Matthias Haunholder (AUT). "It was a perfect day. The conditions were very difficult, like spring conditions but we gambled a little bit and in the end most of the Austrians made the right decisions for this venue. This is my first FWT victory and after I placed third in Sochi I’m completely stoked. This face is perfectly tailored for my riding style: at the beginning it’s very steep and difficult with big rocks, then there’s a section where I could show some speed, then, in the last section, I tried to two or three fun things", said Hausl.
The snowboard men were no less exciting with the Austrian locals pushing hard for the win. As the second snowboarder out of the gate, Mitch Toelderer (AUT) rode the course like a man possessed, with a run that started immediately out of the gate with a few smaller drops to landing a huge double jump clean and then taking a six-meter cliff drop with a slightly sketched landing. Coming in second place was another Austrian Max Zipser followed by the sole Englishman on the tour, James Stentiford, with his best finish of the season. "For an Austrian to win at Fieberbrunn for such an amazing audience, it was really special for me. Max [Zipser], Stefan [Hausl] and Hauni [Matthias Haunholder] and I all rode almost the same line and it was a really good decision, but in the beginning I was not sure. But I’m super happy that everything went as planned and that we decided to go on this spectacular line", said Toelderer.