Pressure is on! D -1 of competition the riders were up on the mountain to inspect the face for tomorrow. Through binoculars they scoped their lines on "Couloir 1 & 2", a 700 metre wide face with a vertical drop of 300 metres with plenty of cliffs (some really big) and a steepness of 35-55 degrees.
Even if it dumped the last few days the snow quality of the face is pretty uncertain. Today it has been windy and yesterday it rained. Will we see pow, crust, ice or wind packed tomorrow or probably a bit of everything?
Freeride World Tour checked in with some of the riders during inspection:
Jess McMillan (USA) - bib nr 1
"I’m psyched to be bib number one! Lucky number! I prefer to be out early to enjoy watching the others. I also like first bib because as you don’t see others go down your vision stays clean and it doesn’t make you hesitate and want to change line".
Reine Barkered (SWE) – bib nr 15 - first bib men
"It’s the first time in my 80+ competition career that I got bib number one! I am very excited. It’s a really fun face, a bit short but with a lot of features from top to bottom. We have competed on it for the RFC (Roldal Freeride Challenge) in April but the snow is a whole different story now. In April it is usually easy spring snow conditions, now I am a bit worried for difficult and rotten snow".
Julien Lopez (FRA) – bib nr 25:
"Jim Jack is in my heart and will be tomorrow at the start line. My run will be a tribute to him. I’m happy with my bib nr 25, a pretty early number, I’m the sixth skier (men) to go. There is less pressure when you don’t stand around for too long before the start. The face has big drops and if you want to win here you need to go big. It’s all or nothing. But the big unknown is the quality of the snow.".
Sam Smoothy (NZL) – bib nr 29 (ranked nr 1 ski)
"The pressure is off for me here. Everything will be judged in Verbier. So I’ll just try and stay on my feet, go fast and do some big jumps…"
Aurélien Ducroz (FRA) – bib nr 38
"I really don’t care what bib number I have. It has been proven in the past that you can win with any bib, early or late in the start field. The face is a beautiful, aesthetic face with icefalls in it but there is not that big variation. I am afraid everyone will do the same big cliff and the winner will come down to who jumps it highest and cleanest. I think there will be a lot of surprises in the snow. It seems very changing even with patches of ice in there".
Douds Charlet (FRA) – bib nr 22 (ranked nr 2 snb – and dad in 2 months!!)
"Number 22 is a good bib. I think the snow will be crusty, which means it will be hard to stomp the big jumps. I will really pay attention to the snow. There are some aesthetic icefalls in the face and as I love ice climbing I’m going to jump them. But my meniscus hurts so I’m a bit concerned".
Torgrim Vole (NOR) – bib nr 33
"They just dynamited the face and it did not move. The snow will probably be pretty compact, which is good as then it will stay the same from first to last rider. I got the same bib as when I won in -09, 33 is my lucky number! But the face looks totally different from when we usually compete here in the spring, a lot more snow! I am not really sure yet on my line choice, but might be similar to my run 2009. I think we will see fluid runs with one or two big jumps straight in the fall line. It’s cool to be on home turf!".
David Underland (NOR) – bib nr 18 - local wildcard snb
"I am stoked to have an early number. I did the comp several times in spring snow and the cliffs where way blacker then than now!".
Before face inspection, the FWT athletes and organisers gathered for an emotional, unofficial "open mike" ceremony in tribute to Freeskiing World Tour’s head judge Jim Jack.