The Freeride World Tour has moved across the Atlantic to Haines, Alaska for the fourth tour stop of 2015. The field has been reduced in all categories leaving only the top 60% for this first-ever FWT event, in what is known as the mecca of freeride. 2015 will surely not only be remembered for the 20th anniversary of the Xtreme Verbier but also for the historic stop in Haines that is about to kick off.
It has long been a dream, for organizers and athletes alike, to have an FWT stop in the grandiose terrain aroundHaines, Alaska. It is now a reality and the battle in the Alaskan mountains will be decisive for the athletes who wish to compete at the 20th edition of the prestigious Xtreme Verbier - the paragon, classical final event of the Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face. Only the top 16 ski men, top 8 snowboard men, top 8 ski women and top 5 snowboard women based on the first three stops of the FWT 2015 have qualified for this exclusive stage in Haines, and their results in Alaska will determine the field the Verbier.
Conditions look great for the competition though and with ten days left to find the best window for holding this historical event, we can look forward to an extraordinary event in the fascinating Alaskan terrain.
The bib draw was made yesterday at a local at a local pub, down-to-earth Haines style, so everything is now ready to get the contest going on short notice.
The excitement about the destination is equal all over the line, whether coming in for early arrival and one week of heli-skiing like Lotten Rapp (SWE) and FWT leader Eva Walkner (AUT) or after an adventurous road trip like Wille Lindberg (SWE), Sam Smoothy (NZL) and Jérémie Heitz (SUI).
One who did not have much time to prepare for this is Nicola Thost (GER) who was invited last minute to take the spot of Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA). She immediately accepted the invitation, leaving her just 24 hours to get her women camp and her talent-scouting Sprungbrett program in taken care of. “I didn't hesitate for a second, even knowing it's due to tragic circumstances,” she says with mixed feelings and reference to the accident in Argentina that Anne-Flore experienced at close range. To the entrepreneurial rider, it was one of those chances in life that just have to be grabbed and she comments: "Haines is the ultimate event of this FWT season, besides the prestigious 20th anniversary finals in Verbier. It's outstanding and 'next level' to organize a comp in AK but it is also the dream and supreme goal of any big mountain rider to make it here some day!".