Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Freeride World Tour Held 3rd Competion of the Season in Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler

Brilliant blue skies and ample fresh snow provided the conditions riders needed to put their best effort forth for their last chance to qualify for the upcoming stop in Haines, Alaska, and as well as the 2017 FWT season. Electricity was in the air as the Austrian skies parted for the first time in days, revealing the impressive Wildseeloder (2,118m) competition face. The 400 vertical meter face hardly resembled its former self with a fresh coating of snow that provided perfect conditions for freeriders to execute their finest lines of the season – some in a last ditch effort to make the qualification cut-offs for the final two stops of the tour and ultimately next year’s FWT.
After much anticipation due to the event being postponed three days because of constant snowfall and low visibility, 54 riders were anxious to finally get a chance to drop in to the face this morning from the two start gates – one for women and one for men. The stakes of this event were high and the quality of the riding reflected the intensity of the athletes.

Ski Men

Reigning champion George Rodney (USA) will hang up his skis for the competition season to allow a knee injury to heal and did not make an appearance today. It was a nail biter for the men with so much on the line as the greatest talents in the sport were hungry to qualify. Dennis Risvoll (NOR – 1st) was the king of the day with a huge line featuring two gigantic backflips to stomped landings. Loic Collomb-Patton (FRA – 2nd) has been riding hard all season and today was no exception with massive, well-executed airs, and a stylish 360. Felix Wiemers (GER – 3rd) ran last but certainly was not least, coming in third place with two backflips and a big air. The strain to qualify was evident as some of this season’s top riders such as Jérémie Heitz (SUI), Ivan Malakhov (RUS), or Drew Tabke (USA), failed to place high on the podium yet graciously secured their place to move on to the next competition by earning just enough points today.

Ski Women

Ski women certainly started off the day with intention after complicated snow conditions on the face resulted in a pair of lost skis and a re-run status for Hazel Birnbaum (USA) and Nadine Wallner (AUT), respectively. After the competition was once again under way, rookie Arianna Tricomi (ITA – 1st) finally put together the winning run after impressive performances throughout the season. Wallner (AUT – 2nd) was able to come back and execute an excellent second run with big airs placing her second, just in front of Lauren Cameron (CAN – 3rd), with both skiers securing their spot in Haines, Alaska. Eva Walkner (AUT) and Jaclyn Paaso (USA) also put down very impressive, full-throttle lines with Paaso taking a huge air near the bottom of the venue. Both riders will make the trip to the American continent with notable riders such as Lorraine Huber (AUT) and Evelina Nilsson (SWE) not earning enough points today to move on to the next stop.

Snowboard Men

The snowboard men ran last today but also expressed an incredibly high level of riding due to the need to qualify for the fourth event on the FWT. Team USA swept the podium with favorite Sammy Luebke (USA – 1st) once again taking the top position with grab mastery and his trademark smooth riding. Newcomer Jonathan Penfield (USA – 2nd) took second with a solid riding style that he shared with his compatriot Christopher Galvin (USA – 3rd). Ralph Backstrom (USA) did not stay on his feet but will still qualify for Haines along with young Frenchman Camille Armand and veteran Florian Orley (AUT).

Snowboard Women

It was also an important day in the snowboard women division with former world champion Elodie Mouthon (FRA – 1st ) laying down the highest scoring line of the day with control and amplitude. It was an emotional second place for Anne-Flore Marxer (SUI/FRA – 2nd) as she tackled the face with authority, scoring her just above fellow francophone Marion Haerty (FRA – 3rd) who has been impressing judges all season. Notably absent from the podium is favorite Estelle Balet (SUI) whose fourth place finish will still guarantee her spot on Alaska along with Mikela Hollstein (FIN).

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