Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Freeride World Tour Held 1st Competion of the Season in Chamonix-Mont-BlancToday


The contest went well and was followed by 106,000 viewers via the live streaming on the web – despite tricky conditions with clouds just below the face constantly threatening visibility on the Chamois competition face.
The face is mostly east-facing and feature packed. Good visibility and dense powder snow provided reliable conditions for riding with good flow, playfulness and pulling tricks off the features. As the day moved on the snow got a little crustier with the sun getting lightly veiled. Male and female skiers and snowboarders competed in the event representing fifty-nine of the world’s best freeriders with the male snowboarders opening the ball.
The slightly convex start out off start number 1 had riders choosing this start, drop “blind” into the face, obliging them to trust 100% what they saw in their inspection from the bottom for orientation. “Sharks” (hidden rocks just under the snow surface) and wind-affected snow added to the challenge up top. The reward was great snow and good take offs for the rest of the face with some low-snow management needed in the landings of the bottom airs. The conditions on the slightly more southwest-facing part of the face under start number 2 involved good dense snow, provided that one stayed out of chunks and debris from avalanches blown for safety earlier in the season.
FWT judge, Dion Newport (NZL) was impressed with the variety and what the riders got out of the competition face: "It was great to see so many riders putting together unique and creative lines. The venue was demanding as it was short and features were close so it came down to riders linking a smooth line together".
The competition began with the men’s snowboard division. Sammy Luebke (USA) chose a freestyle line taking advantage of the good snow conditions in the morning and putting some extra features in. His playful run gave him a first place and a score of 87.80. He was very happy and relieved at the bottom: "I finished off my season by mid-season last year – hurt my knee. I didn't know what it was going to be like coming into Chamonix – and when they picked this face I was really happy because there's a lot of places to go freestyle and the snow was excellent in there". Sascha Hamm (GBR) finished second going freestyle as well earning him a score of 85.50. FWT veteran, 39-year old Flo Orley (AUT) demonstrated that he can still keep up with his younger peers, placing 3rd with a score of score of 79.80.
Next up, was the men’s skiing category where the defending FWT Champion, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) set the tone with a score of 92.75 after a longer break in the contest due to low hanging dense clouds interfering with safety helicopter logistics. He stomped a huge air right off the top – apparently bigger than what he had anticipated. Experience whispered to him that it would be enough if he could keep it together in a strong style for the rest of his run, leaving out a planned 360 on the second air: "I'm happy with my run – I was going to do a 360 in the middle but since I really went huge on the top air – I thought, I must have scored on that one - better to be smart and safe", he commented at the bottom. He revealed that he does feel that pressure is higher this year: "I was really, really under pressure and tense all morning – sure of my line – but under pressure from having won here last year and having won the overall title. Once I got in the start gate I only had one thing in my head, stomp it all, stay on your feet, no backslaps and let's take it all the way to the bottom!".
Reine Barkered (SWE) showed that he is still right up there – despite the compact nature of this face not being advantageous to his fast riding style. He placed second with a score of 89.25.
Drew Tabke (USA) on the other hand looked like he was right at home on the face, choosing an easier but very playful freestyle line including a Lincoln off a lip, giving him a score of 86.25 the 3rd place.
Few names are synonymous with big mountain snowboarding like Shannan Yates (USA) who swiftly won her division with a very strong and smooth run down the fall line. Yates’ nice inclusion of technical features earned her a score of 75.00. "Today I picked a line that didn't get touched the whole run – no competitors went before me there – and it worked out perfect for me, fresh pow turns all the way down", FWT winner 2011 – and birthday girl - Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA/SUI) got a little caught in some tracks after her first air but managed to stay on her feet pulling it back together and make a nice big air at the bottom to take a score of 70.50 and the second place of today. In 3rd place, Elodie Mouthon (FRA) received a score of 67.75 for her fluid run.
Finally, by the time the women skiers had the chance to drop into the Chamois face, they light had become a little lower and a small crust had formed on the snow, calming things down a little. Eva Walkner (AUT) stood for probably the most emotional moment of the day, coming back after two years fighting with knee injuries: "Two years, so many surgeries, pain coming back – it's been a horrible two years for me honestly and today I put myself under so much pressure at the start. I was so nervous – I didn't know where I stand and if I'm good if I can still hold the level or not... It was an easy line, I think all the girls chose a little bit more easy because of the sharks and everything. I missed one cliff so I wasn't sure at the bottom but my goal was to finish without crashing, stomping all my things", she said modestly after a solid run that took her to first place with the score of 73.00. "That I would win – it's a dream!" Christine Hargin (SWE) followed Eva in second place with a nice line down the middle of the face with little hesitation, earning her a score of 72.50. In third place, was the young rookie Silvia Moser (ITA) who showed that she is right in the heels with her risky line, giving her a score of 70.00.

Men’s Snowboard:
1. Sammy Luebke (USA), 87.80
2. Sascha Hamm (GBR), 85.50
3. Flo Orley (AUT), 79.80

Men’s Ski:
1. Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA), 92.75
2. Reine Barkered (SWE), 89.25
3. Drew Tabke (USA), 86.25

Women’s Snowboard:
1. Shannan Yates (USA), 75.00
2. Anne-Flore Marxer (SUI), 70.50
3. Elodie Mouthon (FRA), 67.75

Women’s Ski:
1. Eva Walkner (AUT), 73.00
2. Christine Hargin (SWE), 72.50
3. Silvia Moser (ITA), 70.00

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