Saturday, February 28, 2015

Racing With Low Visibility and Flat Light. Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2015

This year the Garmisch-Partenkirchen downhill race had to be shortened as a tick fog lingered on the top section of the Kandahar the morning of the race. Luckily, by lowering the start the Organizers and race officials were able to make the race happen but the overcast sky brought another challenge for skiers - low visibility and flat light.
Ski racing takes place in all kinds of conditions but low visibility is possibly one of the biggest challenges for athletes. We talked to Croatian Natko Zrncic-Dim, Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Austrian winner of the 2015 DH race Hannes Reichelt about how they tackle tough conditions and low visibility.


Best of Freeride Junior Tour Fieberbrunn 2015 by Dakine

The 2015 Freeride Junior Tour by Dakine started on the 24th January in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. It’s the 5th season of the FJT and this year there are some significant changes which are only adding to the hype!
The most significant of these changes is the introduction of the athlete seeding list used by the Freeride Qualifying Tour for 8 years. This seeding list is a points system which dictates which athletes qualify for which competitions (rated from 1 to 3 stars).
Another change to the FJT is the discontinuation of the two age categories. In previous years the FJT have had two categories (14-16 / 16-17). This year there will be just one open Junior category to champion from ages 14-17 (inclusive).


Hannes Reichelt leads an Austrian Sweep Podium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The Austrian team’s domination in downhill continued this Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The red-white-red team not only claimed the three podium spots for the second Saturday in a row but also managed to place six of it’s nine starting athletes in the top ten.
After winning both training runs, Hannes Reichelt didn’t seem to be affected by today’s multiple delays in start time due to a foggy section in the upper part of the slope, nor by the final call to lower the starting position to the lower, super-G one when it became clear that this was the only chance for the race to take place.
With a time of 1:11.90 Reichelt had a great run and after finishing a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Romed Baumann, he clenched his second downhill victory of the season and 10th career victory.
"This is great because the Kandahar is a classic downhill course", said Reichelt. "Today from the half start it was a close race — I think less than one second separated the top 30 — so you really had to be fast to get the victory. I’m happy that we were able to race because it’s really important for our sport", he said.
Baumann hasn’t stood on a World Cup podium in just over three years so today’s second place was a great step forward for him. Of course, missing what would have been his first downhill victory by such a small margin can be a bit disappointing but Baumann remains hopeful that sooner or later the clock will be on his side.
"Today was really close, a bit like in Groeden when I was out six-hundredths behind and in Chamonix when I was second it was also a very close race. Maybe some day the hundredths will be on my side", Baumann said. "The result is amazing for our team and for our suppliers. It’s my first World Cup downhill podium in a long time. I’m very happy to give my team and especially Salamon a good result".
Matthias Mayer’s back-to-back World Cup victories from Saalbach seemed to have taken a toll on his health and he has been battling with a cold in the last few days and even opted not to start the second training run on Friday. Not feeling 100%, he was more than pleased with his podium finish and especially the fact that he got to share it with his teammates.
"I’m happy with my third place because today it wasn’t easy for me. I’m a little bit sick and tired. I’m glad the race was a little bit shorter today", Mayer said. "It’s just like Saalbach. It’s pretty awesome for us. We couldn’t have imagined that earlier in the season. Three Austrians on the podium, yeah, couldn’t be better".

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Team Europe Wins 2015 Swatch Skiers Cup

After enjoying powder and bluebird conditions for both the Backcountry Slopestyle and Big Mountain events, the 5th edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup was concluded today with Team Europe winning the famous Skiers Cup trophy. This brings the ongoing historic score of the event to 3-2 to Europe.
Just as it has always been the intention from the two co-founders of this unique competition, Sverre Liliequist (SWE) and Kaj Zackrisson (SWE), this week has been characterized by a spirit of brotherly challenges rather than intense competitiveness. However, when the battle is on the brothers bundle up for their team.
Today's battlefield was the Big Mountain. Held on a face only accessible by helicopter, riders from both teams showed off their skills and joy of skiing in face-off heats just like in the Backcountry Slopestyle event. The heats were divided into two rounds where each rider had to meet a skier from the other continent in a duel, fighting for 1 point for their respective teams each time.
Team Europe went into today's event with a 10 to 8 lead taken in the Backcountry Slopestyle yesterday. Today they repeated their success with another 10 to 8 victory, leaving the total score at 20-16 to Team Europe.

Most runs of the first round were dominated by tricky snow conditions and the riders having to feel where they could charge and where to be smooth and light. There were a few exceptions with for example Swatch Proteam member Samuel Anthamatten (SUI) showing his peers the hidden jewel of the mountain by a gap that did not look rideable. Linking it into a fun overall use of the face and playing with the many wind-created formations, it left little chances for his opponent to beat him. Besides winning the point, his run also earned him big cheers from both teams.
Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) also put on a run that stood out in his heat against the playful Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA). In Loïc's usual no-hesitation-style, he put all show ingredients into a fluid run with no signs of balance issues.
The fastest paced run of the day, packed with action was delivered by Rory Bushfield (CAN) who made it looked like the face had been groomed just for him, showing his acrobatic skills as well.
The first round ended 5-4 with Team Americas getting one more precious point behind in the overall. The second round could thus begin at an overall score adding up to 15-12 to Team Europe, counting yesterday's BCS points.

Lagging 3 points behind, with an overall score adding up to 15-12, Team Americas went motivated into the second round with their captain, Seth Morrison (USA) taking the first point against European Team Captain, Julien Regnier (FRA) with his signature backflip in the first heat. However, in the next two heats, the stand-ins for Sven Kueenle (GER) and Richard Permin (FRA) took home two more points for Team Europe: one was event co-founder, Kaj Zackrisson (SWE), who was on fire with what he afterwards called "monkey skiing". The other was a spectacular run from Freeride World Tour rider Nicolas Salencon (ARG/FRA) in a playful freestyle mode. In heat 4 and 5, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) and Logan Pehota (USA) did what they could to bring back hope to their team. Both delivered sweet lines, taking points from the two strong Europeans, Samuel Anthamatten (SUI) and Sam Favret (FRA). Tanner Rainville (USA) then confirmed Team Americas' determination beating Nicolas Vuignier (SUI)and taking the score to a close 16-17 behind Team Europe. Team Americas thus needed to take two more wins of the remaining three heats. Andy Mahre (USA) and Fabien Maierhofer (FRA) kept the suspense with probably the most even heat of the day, ending up to the advantage of the Frenchie. The next face-off was an imposed all-or-nothing strategy for Rory Bushfield (CAN) when Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) stomped a second full repertoire run, underscoring why he is the World Champion in this discipline. Rory went for it but crashed after an ambitious attempt at backflipping in a huge jump turn, thus putting a definitive end to Team Americas chances of keeping the trophy.
Loïc Collomb-Patton who delivered impeccable lines in both heats commented in the finish area: "Technically, it's the same approach as for a run on the Freeride World Tour, but the atmosphere is really special for this competition. We are all together during this week, Europeans and North Americans alike. We both push and challenge each other. For my second run, Samuel [Anthamatten] helped me a lot choosing the line and I skied more or less his line – just in a different way".
Since the battle was settled by then, Dana Flahr (USA) and Sverre Liliequist (SWE) decided to ride together in their heat, in the spirit of the event. Co-founder, Sverre used the occasion of this last heat to sign off the event with a big front flip just before the finish.

Freeride World Tour General Manager, Nicolas Hale-Woods (SUI), who delivers the structure behind the event was left inspired after a week with these superstar riders:
"The level of skiing is amazing – but what strikes me most is the good spirit between the teams", he commented. "It has been really interesting to witness how the guys helped out each other. This morning I saw the young Logan Pehota being coached by Cody Townsend about his line for example. That's the spirit that makes this event so special and we will do our part to keep it that way".

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Best of Backcountry Slopestyle

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Team Europe Takes The Lead In The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015

The score of the Backcountry Slopestyle event ended 10-8 to Team Europe.
On the longest ever Backcountry Slopestyle venue with a vertical drop of 600m (2000 ft), the rivaling teams threw on one duel after another of acrobatic accomplishments and unbelievable balance.
The judges of the Swatch Skiers Cup scored the runs by heats of 2 from a simple scale of win or lose. However lots of details go into the judgment of the overall impression. SSC judge and former pro skier and 2002 X Games bronze medalist Philippe Poirier (CAN) explains: "We look a lot at the style in the air, the composition and fluidity of the run, originality and of course the balance in the landings. Also, even if you know your opponent has crashed, you have to still go for it, so if you come down doing three spread eagles to stay safely on your feet, you still risk losing it".

The difficulty of the First Round is that the skiers have only had a visual check to base their decisions on. They have to rely solely on their feel for the snow and their experience to adjust the speed to the different features. Sam Favret (FRA) started out taking a point for Europe in the first heat by beating Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) – both stomping their runs but Sam throwing tricks of higher difficulty. The next four rounds would see points going to Team Americas. Both Richard Permin (FRA) and Sven Kueenle (GER) crashed hard in their heats, taking them out for the second round and sending them straight for a medical check-up.
The first round finished of with a duel between the two Team Captains, Seth Morrison (USA) and Julien Regnier (FRA) with the victory going to Julien after Seth had laid out with a Flat3 Japan up top followed by a huge back flip off a cliff earning him the baptizing rights. He just managed to save the landing but then crashed after the next feature.
The first round ended with a score of 5-4 to Team Americas.










The second one is traditionally the round where the riders pull off their best stuff, after having tasted the terrain and felt how much speed is needed to get the air wanted in the first round.
The second round laid out with a duel between duel Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) taking the score even by beating Rory Bushfield (CAN) who almost beat the strong Frenchie by going for the wow factor, opening of the big kicker 4 that none had felt tempted to take in round 1.
Then next many rounds kept the score very close, alternating wins to the two teams all the way up to the much awaited heat of legends: Seth Morrison (USA) versus Sverre Liliequist (SWE). Both guys showed that they are not done playing yet. Seth sent an even bigger back flip than first time off “his” cliff – inspiring Sverre to send an evenly big back flip off another cliff. Both crashed but the wow factor was such that they definitely delivered the highlights of the day. Sverre got the point taking the score to an even 9-7.
Andy Mahre (USA) set up a spectacular second run but not enough to beat Sam Favret (FRA) in this very tight heat. Finally, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) having stepped in for Sven Kueenle (GER) in the heat that showed the highest level of the day against Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA).
Sage won the heat with probably the most creative line of the day, including combination of a man-made and natural feature into a double up top and opening up a new air.










Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 kicks Off Tomorrow Wednesday February 25th With the Backcountry Slopestyle

The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 kicks off with the Backcountry Slopestyle (BCS) event on Wednesday at 10am (CET). The legendary event will take place on the venue prepared below the Hörnli ridge in the Schwarzsee sector of Zermatt. It will be the longest Backcountry Slopestyle in the world with 600 vertical meters (2000ft) and a total length of 1300m (4300ft).

The Backcountry Slopestyle venue has been designed and prepared by the head shaper Arnaud Kugener (FRA) and his team over the past three weeks to give the riders an optimal playground and the spectators a jaw dropping show. The battle will play out literally just below the Matterhorn on its north flank.
This crowd pleasing event can be watched live from the public viewing area directly on the Stafelapl slope (no. 52) down from Schwarzsee.

In the BCS event, the world class riders known from the ski movies, can be seen throwing trick after trick while riding down the backcountry terrain. The contest is held as team duals between a team of skiers representing Europe and a team from the Americas. This format is known to spice up the atmosphere with team spirit and continental pride, giving the skiers extra wings and the spectators a clear team to cheer for.

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Zermatt. Team Americas

Last December, after an intense selection process, the team captains for Europe and the Americas unveiled the eight elite skiers they will bring to Zermatt, Switzerland for the unique intercontinental team battle in anticipation of the 5th edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup.
The pressure is on this year as both teams are ready to break the 2-2 tie, with Team Americas defending their 2014 title. The line up is as strong and versatile as ever with returning "All Star"athletes teaming up with the latest newcomers. The key to winning the Swatch Skiers Cup is not necessarily the sum of a team’s individual talents; but rather the right combination of freeride and freestyle skills, team spirit, and consistency.
Team Americas, led by all round hero Seth Morrison (USA) will see the return of some big names such as: 3-time winner of Powder Magazine’s “Best Male Performance” award Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA), "Silent Shredder" Callum Pettit (CAN), the master of playfulness and IF3 award winning, Cody Townsend (USA) and super athlete Rory Bushfield (CAN). And although newcomers to the Swatch Skiers Cup, the remaining athletes on Team Americas are already household names through video parts with major production companies: Dana Flahr (CAN), Andy Mahre (USA) and Logan Pehota (CAN), and last but not least, Tanner Rainville (USA). All together a promising, balanced mix of Skiers Cup experience and new inspiration.

Team Americas Members Presented By Captain Seth Morrison:

Home Mountain: Alta + Snowbird, Utah (USA)
Seth says: "Is very well rounded and an obvious choice for this event. Laid back attitude and love of the sport comes to mind when I think about Sage. We have enjoyed many Alaska trips over the years, besides countless others. Pleasure to have him back on the team".

Home Mountain: Whistler, British Colombia (CAN)
Seth says: "I have known Callum since he was a kid. Early on you could see him going for it. Still today, sending it. Impressive to see, wonder what he will do next. Another well rounded skiing guy, cool to see his level each year. Strong member of the team".

Home Mountain: Squaw Valley, California (USA)
Seth says: "Last year was the first time I skied with Cody. He is a hard charger, film star. First met him at Woodward at Copper first season being opened he was honing his tricks. Worked his way through the big mountain comp scene and landed a rare spot in the film world. Entrepreneur and silly man, he brings a good mentality to the group".

Home Mountain: Whistler Blackcomb (CAN)
Seth says: "Is a wild child. From his many stunts we have seen in the films to his creativity as a skier. He as all of us are having a good time. Seeing his progression over the years puts him at the top of the game in mental calmness. He mostly does things that makes you go, Wow! Glad to have him on the team for sure".

Home Mountain: Whistler, British Colombia (CAN)
Seth says: "When park skiing started to take off I was a coach at High North Camp in Whistler where I met and coached Dana for a brief period and later skied with him in films in Alaska and BC. This guy can do it all as well. Easy going guy with a passion for the sport. Has a bag of tricks to go with the mountain scene".

Home Mountain: White Pass, Washington (USA)
Seth says: "This guy rips, son of an Olympian and from a ski family. Well rounded seems to prefer powder, yet can carve any surface, or pull a trick in a tight spot. Team mate with the K2 squad, have spent time together skiing in Chile, Alaska, BC. This guy was born to ski".

Home Mountain: Whistler Blackcomb (CAN)
Seth says: "His father was a skier I looked up to at Logan's age, and in recent years we shared a trip together in Alaska filming for Poor Boyz, the trip was tough with weather and conditions. We also camped out in a Lighthouse for a few days. He was up for the adventure. Another well rounded Skier. I look forward to seeing how he has progressed from Alaska, young smart guy".

Home Mountain: Breckenridge (USA)
Seth says: "I met him at an Eye of the Condor event a few years ago in La Parva Chile. He had already caught my eye in Level1 movies. He as well is a well rounded skier. At some point in time my sister baby sat him as a child. Small world. He is a Dark horse for sure, good guy".

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Zermatt. Team Europe

Last December, after an intense selection process, the team captains for Europe and the Americas unveiled the eight elite skiers they will bring to Zermatt, Switzerland for the unique intercontinental team battle in anticipation of the 5th edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup.
The pressure is on this year as both teams are ready to break the 2-2 tie, with Team Americas defending their 2014 title. The line up is as strong and versatile as ever with returning "All Star"athletes teaming up with the latest newcomers. The key to winning the Swatch Skiers Cup is not necessarily the sum of a team’s individual talents; but rather the right combination of freeride and freestyle skills, team spirit, and consistency.
Veteran Captain Julien Regnier (FRA) will be excited to welcome back Richard Permin (FRA) to Team Europe following his stand out part in Matchstick Productions 2014 release "Days Of My Youth"and subsequent explosion on the international scene. Team Europe can also count on the experience of the iconic freerider and co-founder of the Skiers Cup, former team captain Sverre Liliequist (SWE). New talent has been added to the team with rookie, Sven Kueenle (GER). The creative and multi-talented Fabien Maierhofer (FRA) is back along with Chamonix native Sam Favret (FRA) and Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) who complete the French Connection. That leaves just two more riders to round off one of the strongest Team Europe line ups we have seen, swiss Nicolas Vuignier (SUI), and last years Head Mountain Guide, Samuel Anthamatten (SUI).


Team Europe Members Presented By Captain Julien Regnier: 

Richard PERMIN (FRA)
Home Mountain: Vallnord (AND)
Julien says: "The Lion: Richie charges so hard it looks like he has no fear. Super fast skiing and big airs – I wouldn’t want to battle against him. He is also a really strong freestyle skier, he can send doubles off some of the biggest park jumps so he’s for sure one of my big names for the Backcountry Slopestyle day".

Home Mountain: La Clusaz (FRA)
Julien is Speechless. This rider is the definition of an all-round skier. Competed in both alpine (as a kid), moguls skiing, halfpipe (runner-up World Champion 2005), slopestyle and latest in freeride where he happens to be the reigning World Champion!

Home: Stockholm (SWE)
Julien says: "The Bear: Sverre and Kaj have really similar styles on and off the snow. Sverre is a super solid Big Mountain rider with really strong alpine-style turns, huge cliff stomps, and a crazy backflip".

Home Mountain: Les Ménuires (FRA)
Julien says: "The Wolf: Unfortunately Fabien is one of my best friends so he can only disappoint me as a great French thinker once said. Fab has more than a few tricks in his bag it will be interesting who he will battle".

Home Mountain: Chamonix (FRA)
Julien says: "The Fox: A very solid skier in both disciplines, Sam has strong legs and he knows how to use them. He built his reputation as a freestyle skier, but this Chamonix-based man knows how to freeride the craziest Big Mountain terrain, too".

Home Mountain: Crans Montana (SUI)
Julien says: "The Owl: Nico is the smooth operator he is clean and precise, I just love the way he make is turns and he is a very good card for the freestyle day of course. A very original rider that sees things his own way".

Home: Munich (GER)
Julien says: "The Lynx: Sven has been traveling the world for fresh powder, building kickers and ripping lines for more than ten years. It is a great honor to have him in the team I know he will give all he has".

Home Mountain: Zermatt, Switzerland. Swatch Proteam
Julien says: "The Squirrel: Sam goes fast. Sam can spin. Sam is a guide. Sam can climb, yes Sam is all that and Sam better win some battles - he is the pride of Zermatt after all!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Backcountry Slopestyle Heats

In each of the two disciplines of Big Mountain and Backcountry Slopestyle, one Team Europe rider will meet one Team Americas rider in a head-to-head competition format. All 18 riders will have two runs in each discipline, making a total of 36 heats with two riders in each.
To decide who meets whom in a heat, one of the the two team captains has his starting rider picked by draw, leaving the other captain the advantage of tactically deciding which of his riders will go head-to-head to the drawn rider. In the second heat the roles are reversed and so forth. This process has now been completed for the Backcountry Slopestyle event, giving the start list with the exciting heats you can see below.
The three international judges will work with the simplest scoring method possible judging from an overall perspective. In each heat they compare the two riders. A showing of a blue sign means a vote for best performance by a Team Europe rider, and a showing of a red sign means a vote for the Team Americas rider. The rider who has the votes from at least two judges wins the heat and is rewarded with 1 point for his team. The losing rider gets 0 points for his team. The team with the most of the 36 available points after both days of competition wins!



















Matthias Mayer's Weekend in Saalbach Hinterglemm

On a turny course set by American coach F. Carey with plenty of rhythm changes Matthias Mayer was able to find the perfect pace and grab his second victory in a row. With a time of 1:31.53, the Austrian he took home his first victory in the discipline, a success he attributed partially to the recent giant slalom training he had been focusing on.
"I’ve trained a lot of GS so I had a little bit of an advantage today because of the turny sections of the course. I knew I can ski the fast parts, so today was a perfect combination and good run for me", Mayer said. "It’s amazing. I live just two and half hours from here. All my friends and family are here. It was an unbelievable weekend for me. Yesterday, this run was perfect and today, too, so it couldn’t be better".
Adrien Theaux made the news two days ago when the photo of his spread eagle over the Audi built into the final jump went viral on social media, but today it was his first World Cup podium of the season, a 2nd place in the super-G that got him smiling.
"It’s been a nice week for me. I felt good in the training, which is why I did that spread eagle. It’s something I did for me; I had no intention for it to be picked up online. Today with the flat light it was very difficult, lots of rolls but I am very, very happy with my run today", Theaux said.
With a time only 0.27 seconds slower than the winning one, Kjetil Jansrud grasped his fourth podium and increased his lead over Dominik Paris in the discipline standings and with two races left is currently 145 points ahead of the Italian.
"I came into the finish. I don’t think I even looked at the board before hitting my poles. I felt personally that I made a few mistakes up top, which could have costed me the victory. But that’s assuming you’re going to win every race. It’s not a good way to be an athlete. I have to apologize for throwing my poles down", Jansrud explained his first reaction.
Jansrud was at first not happy with his run but quickly realized his run would be enough to bring him valuable points in both the SG standings and in the Overall one.
"These are important points in the Overall — you always want more. I wanted 200 points — that’s the best you can have, so you always aim for that. Normally, you understand you can’t have that much. Yesterday, I was a little disappointed. Today, I’m happy with the podium".

Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Slalom in Rainy Maribor

On a wet and dreary day in Maribor, Slovenia, Mikaela Shiffrin skied through the rain to win her third World Cup slalom of the season, besting Veronika Velez Zuzulova by a large margin of 1.03 seconds. World Championship bronze medalist, Sarka Strachova, rounded out the podium in third, 1.05 second behind.
World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who admitted she liked skiing in the rain, ran fastest in the opening slalom run and didn't let anyone come close in the second, clocking a combined time of 1:39.12, with the rest of the pack more than one second off the pace.
"Sometimes I like skiing in the sun too", Shiffrin said laughing. "We had a little bit of both this weekend. The rain doesn't bother me too much".
Shiffrin built a substantial lead in the first run as she was 0.68 seconds ahead of Sarka Strachova.
"I felt like I really I had to attack in the second run", said the 19-year-old. "I feel best after my races when I try to put two really good runs down and in each one I try to be better than in the last. But I knew I had a little bit of time so I had to be smart and not go crazy, because the goal is to get the globe this season. I think I was a little bit smart in the second run, but I was still pushing it".
With yesterday's results, Mikaela Shiffrin moved up to first place in the slalom standings. She leads Frida Hansdotter by 30 points. The Swede had to be content with 9th place today, her worst result of the season.
"The slalom globe is very close to my heart", concluded Shiffrin. "It was my entrance onto the World Cup circuit and to having success in my career. I really hope I can hang on to this. I really have to fight for it in the next two slalom races".
Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulov moved up from 8th position after the first run to finally finish second, 1.03 seconds back, for her first podium finish this campaign.
"For sure the weather was not the best, but I think the conditions were actually really good", commented Velez Zuzulova. "That helped me get a good result in the first run, starting with bib 23. It's a great day for me. Being back on the podium makes me really happy".
Sarka Strachova, who earned bronze at the World Championips, managed to hold on to a podium spot, for her second top-3 finish this season.
"It was a tough race", said Strachova. "The first run was good and the second, in such conditions, was actually also really good. I made a mistake in the middle part of my second run. But once in the finish and knowing I was going to be on the podium again was a great feeling. I am in a good shape now and the self-confidence is back again".

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Zermatt, Day 2. BackCountry Slopestyle Inspection

In today's "All Access Areas" the riders inspect the face for the Back Country Slopestyle venue.

The Backcountry Slopestyle venue has been designed and prepared by the head shaper Arnaud Kugener (FRA) and his team. Massive jumps have been shaped to perfection using the natural terrain for inspiration. This event, that traditionally draws big crowds will take place on the Hirli Face, accessible to the public from the Stafelapl piste.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Zermatt, Day 1

The riders of the Swatch Skiers Cup have arrived in Zermatt, Switzerland.
The Opening Ceremony takes place tonight at 9pm (CET) at the Backstage Cinema. The Big Mountain and the popular Backcountry Slopestyle events are on the program for the week, starting Monday 23rd at the earliest due to the current weather conditions.
  Follow Kaj Zakrisson and learn more about the start of this new 5th edition.
Zermatt Access All Areas, every evening during the Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 in Zermatt, Switzerland. The daily magazine about all the events of the day.

The next edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup will take place from 21 to 27 February 2015 in Zermatt. Team Europe and Team Americas face off against each other in this Freeski duel between the continents.
In the duel of the continents, Julien Regnier is captain of Team Europe and Seth Morrison captain of Team Americas.
In this unique freeskiing event, seven of the best riders from each region are selected by a team captain. In a face off in match play format during two days of competition, the teams will compete in both Big Mountain (freeride) and Backcountry Slopestyle (freestyle). Once again, Zermatt will be hosting the event, guaranteeing outstanding terrain in a spectacular setting in front of the almighty Matterhorn. The Backcountry Slopestyle competition and special entertainment in the village are all accessible to the public which adds to the very special atmosphere of this event.

Anna Fenninger Wins Giant Slalom in Maribor

After two weeks of intense racing at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the ladies' World Cup is back in Europe to celebrate the 51st edition of the Golden Fox. The last time the athletes got to race in the Mariborsko Pohorje ski resort was two years ago, since the event had to be staged in Kranjska Gora in 2014 due to the lack of snow.
Austria's Anna Fenninger claimed her second World Cup victory of the season in Maribor on Saturday. The reigning World Champion clocked a combined time of 2:24.50 to edge Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, who finished a mere 0.04 seconds behind. Rounding out the podium was Tina Weirather, 0.30 seconds off the pace.
Fenninger led Rebensburg by 0.03 seconds after the first run and managed to hold on to her position thanks to a very strong last section. Fenninger's second run wasn't perfect in the first two sections. She was half of a second behind at the second intermediate time.
"I felt that I was not skiing that well in the middle section", explained Fenninger at the press conference. "So I really tried to push hard in the lower part. I felt I was faster then, but I didn't know if that was going to be enough. I was of course really happy when I saw the green light".
Viktoria Rebensburg was the runner-up at the World Championships already behind Fenninger and proved she was back to her very best in giant slalom, making her first World Cup podium this season in the discipline.
"Being on the podium is for sure always nice", said Rebensburg. "Four hundredths of a second, this isn't much and it hurt a little bit in the first place, but I am happy about this second place. I am skiing good in giant slalom again. I was struggling a bit at the start of the season. It is very positive for me to know I can be up there in giant slalom again. It gives me confidence for the rest of the season".
In seventh place after the first run, 0.74 seconds off the pace, Tina Weirather clocked the fastest time of the second run to climb onto the podium for the third time of the campaign.
"I wasn't expecting it, but I knew it was possible", said Weirather. "I missed the bronze medal by 0.06 in giant slalom at the World Championships and I have been skiing well in training in the last couple of days. But then you have to do it on race day and that's the tough part. I am very happy it worked out today".

Austrian Downhill Podium Sweep in Saalbach Hinterglemm

After winning 9 medals at the recently concluded World Championships in Vail Beaver Creek, the Austrian team has been able to keep the momentum going back in Europe as well. At the first post World Championships race in Saalbach, three Austrians topped the downhill race standings on Saturday to the delight of the 10,000 fans cheering along the course.
Not since 1994 have the men raced downhill in Saalbach. The 2015 version of the hill follows an entirely new line up top and intersects with the previous race trail near the bottom, ultimately finishing in essentially the same spot. The Schneekristall, as it turns out, was one of the toughest tests of the season, packed with sharp terrain and big air from top to bottom.
the home team secured the three spots that matter most — Matthias Mayer, Max Franz and Hannes Reichelt sweeping the podium in that order.
The win was Mayer’s first since his downhill gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
"The light today was, of course, very flat", Mayer explained. "It was much more difficult than the training runs. You couldn’t see the rolls and bumps today. It was really tough, and you had to risk everything".
It’s a particularly sweet victory for Mayer who had been knocking on the door of the top step of the podium multiple times this year.
"I finished second place this year three times, and I was fourth in the super G at World Champs — so I’m very happy about this win today. To be on the podium with two teammates makes this race event more special. It’s an awesome feeling for us today".
Max Franz second place today proved bitter-sweet as he was close to locking his first career’s victory after a great run; but a small mistake in the top section of the course proved costly and the young Austrian completed his run a mere 0.02 seconds slower than Mayer.
"Two hundredths — damn. I didn’t have a very good run up top", said Franz. "I didn’t have a very good first split and that’s where I lost the race today. The last part was really fast".

Monday, February 16, 2015

Epic TV: You & The Fools, Ep. 1. Neck Deep In Austrian Powder With Jochen Mesle, Neil Williman, And Friends

It´s the end of December 2014 and a crew of freeskiers comes together in Silvretta Montafon to kick things off. The first big snowfall of the season hits the mountains just in time and the boys are happy to go really deep the following days. Not only is the powder deep, it´s really dry and light, a rare treat in the Alps. Faceshots guaranteed! After that the skies open up for a killer bluebird day to start 2015. Jochen Mesle and and Sven Rauber send natural hits all day long, while Pete Oswald and and Neil Williman hike a really steep couloir and ski it as the sun goes down.

Jean-Baptiste Grange Wins Gold in the Slalom at Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

The last race of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championship on Sunday had a thrilling scenario in store. None of the four fastest racers after the opening slalom run managed to hold on to their positions and saw France's Jean-Baptiste Grange claim the World title.
Defending Champion Marcel Hirscher put himself in the position to collect another medal after posting the fastest time in the first run leading Russia's Alexander Khoroshilov by 0.28 seconds, Sweden's Andre Myhrer by 0.66 seconds and another Swede Mattias Hargin by 0.85 seconds.
Jean-Babptise Grange, who was fifth after the first run, 0.88 seconds out, delivered a moment of magic coming down the course and recording the fastest time of the second run. Khoroshilov, Myhere and Hargin all failed to match Grange's time, while Hirscher didn't finish. The overall World Cup leader lost control and straddled a gate after the third split.
Grange captured his second career World title in a combined time of 1:57.47. Rounding out the podium finally was Germany's duo Fritz Dopfer (+0.35) and Felix Neureuther (+0.55) earning respectively silver and bronze.
30-year-old Grange already won gold at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen World Championships in 2011, while his last World Cup podium dated back to February 2011.
"I really didn't expect it considering I wasn't in the top 20 in last World Cup slalom races", commented Grange. "It is a wonderful gift for all the efforts over the last four years, after many injuries, bad bib numbers and no confidence sometimes (...) At big events, there is always a lot of stress and pressure. And the feeling isn't always good, but you have to believe in you. I don't know but I guess today was my day. It's just a dream".
After a disappointing result in the giant slalom on Friday, Fritz Dopfer put everything on the line to finally claim is first medal at World Championships.
"After the first run I was confident that I could ski well, the feeling was good", Dopfer told reporters. "The second run was more difficult because it was straighter and the speed was higher. I tried to push myself to the limit. I am glad I handled it and very happy to stand on the podium".
Felix Neureuther, who finished second in the slalom at the 2013 World Championships, managed to take home his second medal, after just missing out the podium in the giant slalom race on Friday.
"It was the same situation as in the giant slalom, where I was sitting in third before Marcel came down and won the silver medal, pushing me out of the podium", explained Neureuther. "I was sure I would end fourth again today. Luckily it things happened differently and the medal today makes me really happy".

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Best of the FWT 2015 In Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra

The event hosted in Vallnord-Arcalis was the first time that the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face had a competition stop in Andorra.
The local FWQ rider Dani Fornell-Prat (AND) competed on a host's wild card and was thrilled to be a part of this: "We are really proud to host the Tour here. Five years ago this was inconceivable and here we are. The media have been talking about this for months and months. Everybody here wanted for all these 'animals' to come and compete here".
Dani didn't let down his local fans, putting down an absolutely spectacular run with a huge air going into the face and sending it almost into orbit on the bottom, being drawn down in the score only by a few small control issues in the middle. With a score of 71.75 he placed 12th in today's action packed event.
All together, this was an extremely successful event for Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra. A great debut as an FWT host and a stop that the riders will definitely look forward to coming back to next year!

The Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.

Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Gold in the Slalom at Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

Saturday’s slalom marked the last day of World Championships action for the ladies and it couldn’t have been a sweeter ending for the American fans as Mikaela Shiffrin laid out a stunning performance and successfully defended her 2012 World Championships title.
In the first run, on a rhythmic course set by Norwegian coach Tim Gfeller, Mikaela Shiffrin made it clear she was here to defend her Schladming gold medal. The American laid down a strong run, finishing just below half a second ahead of Frida Hansdotter and Sarka Strachova who sat in second and third place.
In the second run, the ladies fought hard to hold on to their positions but Shiffrin managed to do so while keeping everyone on their toes during her run. The young Olympic and now two times World Champion lost all of her lead between the start and the first intermediate, made up only 0.01 of the lost time by the second but managed to crush the bottom section of the slope to finish 0.34 seconds ahead of Frida Hansdotter who finished second and 0.77 seconds ahead of Sarka Strachova.
"It was a tough competition, especially in the second run", said Shiffrin."The course was faster and everybody wanted it. I am really happy to come on top but I really had to give it all out in the very end (...) I was saving energy for the last section, because I knew that a couple girls had struggled in the bottom, right onto the flats, and that's normally where I can carry my speed", she explained. "That was my focus of the course. It's not always easy to charge the whole way".
Mikaela Shiffrin became then the third woman to win the Slalom world title in back-to-back World Championships following Janica Kostelic (2003 and 2005) and Christel Cranz (1937, 1938, 1939).
Hansdotter, who had finished third in 2013 equalled compatriots Anja Pärson and Pernilla Wiberg who both won two World Championships Slalom medals, most of all Swedish women.
"I have had an amazing season and I am super happy with this silver medal. Mikaela was hard to beat today and it must have been amazing for her to win in front of her home crowd so I am thrilled for both of us", a very happy Hansdotter said after her run.
Sarka Strachova already owns a full set of World Championships slalom medals - a bronze from Santa Caterina in 2005, a gold one from Are in 2007 and a silver medal from Val d’Isere in 2009 but today’s bronze almost seemed to be the sweetest one for the Czech skier as it came after a few years marked by team changes and illness.
"It’s amazing! It was already amazing when I got a second place in Kuthai at the end of last year, but to win a medal here, the fifth ’big one’ for me is special. I worked so hard for it and this third place is like a gold for me", Strachova said after the race.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ted Ligety Wins Gold in the Giant Slalom at Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

In front of thousands of cheering fans, Ted Ligety skied aggressively in the second run to take the lead and then watched the other contenders fail to match his mark. He posted a combined time of 2:34.16 to edge out Marcel Hirscher at the top of the timesheets. The Austrian finished 0.45 seconds off the pace, while France's Alexis Pinturault took the last podium spot, 0.88 seconds out.
Ted Ligety became the first man to win the giant slalom world title three times following his wins in 2011 and 2013.
"This one was a tough one for sure", he said. "This is probably one of the most emotional victories, from the standpoint that it's been a tough kind of year. To be able to win in front of a home crowd and have a bunch of friend and family here is super meaningful. And to pull it off with that kind of pressure is always awesome".
Ligety collected his second medal of the World Championships, having already earned bronze in the alpine combined, which was dominated by Marcel Hirscher.
Marcel Hirscher went into that race as the super favourite, having won four of the five giant slalom World Cup races this season, including the last three. The only race he failed to win was actually in Beaver Creek, where he took third behind Ted Ligety and Alexis Pinturault.
"I have to say I gave my best", said Hirscher. "I had a pretty awesome run, but Ted's run was definitely outstanding. I don't think I could have skied even one hundredth of a second faster, so to get that silver medal makes me super happy".
Sick in bed two days prior to the race, Alexis Pinturault found the necessary energy to win the second medal for the French team after the bronze earned in the super-G race by Adrien Théaux.
"My focus in the last past two days was just about recovering as fast as possible to be able to race today", he explained at the press conference. "After the first run I thought that things were fine again, that I finally had all the power back I needed. The feeling was good. But in the second run, it was much more difficult for me. I was really tired. So this podium is a great achievement for me".

Friday, February 13, 2015

FWT 2015 In Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra

The competition in Vallnord-Arcalis today was held under blue skies but in tricky snow conditions. The chosen venue in Andorra was characterized by an unprecedented density of features on the face and a great variety of lines. With this contest the women skiers have completed their qualification for the next stop of the tour, which will only include the top 7 women in the overall ranking. The other categories only have two results so far. They still have the possibility of getting in a third result counting for the Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler-Alpen stop, restaged here in Andorra within the competition window ending on Thursday.

Women’s Ski 

 The women's skiing category was particularly exciting today, because it was decisive of who is qualified for the next stop which will take place in Haines, Alaska (USA) on March 14th. Two Americans, Jackie Paaso (USA) and Hazel Birnbaum (USA) were in the “hot seat” ranking 6th and 7th respectively, and both made it in. Hazel showed a very decisive run today with great action earning her the top score of 78.75 and her first FWT victory. 
"I was pretty nervous coming in to today. I fell in the last event. I really wanted to go to Alaska and represent our home country", Hazel said at the bottom. "I just wanted to stay on my feet. Last time was a pretty big ego-crash. I can't believe I won. Now I'm going to celebrate with my friends - I'm going to my home state of Alaska!".
Eva Walkner (AUT) continued her streak of podiums with a second place and a score of 75.00, laying out hard, dropping aggressively into the steep part, almost using the features to steer her down the steep top section. The 3rd place was taken by Francesca Pavillard-Cain (USA) who started out with a nice big air off the top lip, continuing playfully with a traversing air towards the skiers left and putting another good size air into the middle section. A solid run scoring her 72.25 out of the 100 points possible.

Men’s Ski 

 The man of the day was Sam Smoothy (NZL) who scored an impressive 91.25 and took the 1st place in men's skiing. He picked the skiers right of the face as one of the only riders, linking the spread out snow pads with big air in excellent flow, keeping breath-taking action all along the face.
A happy Sam, who sees his possibilities of qualifying for Alaska re-opening, found confidence to send it in the conditions that he said were close to what he knows from home in New Zealand: "Going into Andorra, I really needed a good result. I just felt right at home here. I'm super psyched – it was an all-or-nothing run and it worked for me".
With bib number 2, Jeremie Heitz (SUI) set the standards for the day right off the bat with a score of 82.00. He laid out a fast, fluid run starting with a very technical jump into the steep couloir, impressing the judges right away. Only Sam's spectacular line could beat that and left him with the second place.
Finally the stomp master, Reine Barkered (SWE), confirmed his podium from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc with a line close to Jeremie's, giving him a score of 81.25 squeezing him in just ahead of Rodney George (USA) who had a score of 81.00 in a very tight top field.
Reine is now leading the current standings and said he is feeling more relaxed about the upcoming events: "Today I was actually not nervous at all in the beginning – and then I got up to the start and got really nervous for some reason. Surprised though, I had a pretty straightforward line I think – but of course you don't know if you are going to ride it well. Snow was okay and I got most of my features in and landed clean I think and it went really fast so I'm super happy with a 3rd place here today. This of course, puts me in a really good position now for the Tour with a 2nd and a 3rd place it should be really good – I think – so it definitely takes a lot of pressure off for the upcoming events opening up so I can really go full charge, with a no holding-back-kind of riding".

Men’s Snowboard 

 The snowboarders put on an impressive show taking advantage of the diversity of options on the face and showing mastery of their technical skills. Jonathan Charlet (FRA) received the highest score of the day with 90.00. He dropped into the steeps with a perfect 180 off the wind lip up top and continued down the in beautiful fast-paced turns, making the steep part look very easy before making an exit jump out of the couloir. He spiced up the middle section with a feature pulling a grab, finally ending his spectacular line stomping a playful bottom air and yelling with happiness, claiming it, as he went through the characteristic black Swatch arch into the Finish. 
"I'm absolutely stoked! I felt great coming down. Snow had turned good and I had perfect grip. I took all my airs as I wanted", he explained, calming down his excitement a bit before talking about the continuation of the season: "I stay calm for now while hoping to obtain that ticket to Alaska".
Flo Orley (AUT) showed some of his best action ever in a very original line. He started out with a big, highly exposed air crossing over to a very narrow couloir before hitting more big airs. A line that showed a complete repertoire of skills and gave him a score of 86.50. 
"I'm super stoked to be here in Andorra – the mountains look very much like home. The terrain in the area where I went is just like my home mountain and the snow softened up so I could do what I wanted. When I saw the score I was like the happiest man on the planet", said the experienced rider showing that he is still able to send it big time. 
The third podium place went to Ralph Backstrom (USA) who received a score 83.75 with a line similar to Jonathan's at the top and playing it a little more safe at the bottom, "putting another result in the pocket to get to Alaska" as he said was his game plan. 

Women’s Snowboard 

The female snowboarders seemed to enjoy the many smaller features cramming in good action throughout the face. Most impressive today was Estelle Ballet (SUI) who showed both very technical turns in high speed up top in the steep section, and fun action playing with the features on the lower part. She got a high score of 83.00 putting her in 1st place. 
"I'm really excited and I had a lot of fun competing today! I rode just like I would have, when I'm out with my friends - no pressure!" she said. With regards to Alaska, Estelle continued: "Of course I feel more and more confident about the continuation of the season and Alaska which is getting closer!".
Elodie Mouthon (FRA) successfully linked her turns and smaller features in good control, earning her a score of 79.50 and a 2nd place. 
Shannan Yates (USA) took almost the same line putting in few but strategically well-chosen airs. She obtained a score of 76.75 and the 3rd place, thus keeping the lead of the current standing.

SNOWBOARD Highlights from FWT15 Vallnord-Arcalis por FreerideWorldTourTV

Vail Resorts Introduces EpicMix Challenges

Today, Vail Resorts announced a new feature for its award-winning, multi-channel app, EpicMix™. EpicMix™ Challenges will allow skiers and riders to throw down the gauntlet and compete with friends and family to complete on-mountain challenges at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone in Colorado, Canyons in Park City, Utah, Heavenly, Northstar or Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, Afton Alps in Minnesota or Mt. Brighton in Michigan. The new feature is available now in free iPhone or Android apps or at
Using the RFID chip embedded in season passes and day tickets, EpicMix Challenges gathers stats and tracks guests as they enjoy the mountain, and lets guests compete for achievements and share them on social media. For example, the Mile High Challenge is earned by skiing 5,280 vertical feet in a day at a single resort. The participants can track their progress against one another even if they’re skiing different resorts.
"EpicMix Challenges will provide a new, fun, competitive way for guests to experience our resorts", said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. "There is a challenge for every type of guest based on their real-life achievements to take at their preferred pace. While it’s part of a larger social media trend, there really is nothing like it in the ski industry".
Challenges aren’t only for expert skiers and riders. There is a challenge for guests of all ages and ability levels. Guests log into any one of the various EpicMix channels (app, mobile web, desktop) and select challenges based on difficulty (beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert), type (vertical feet, lift rides, days on mountain) and length (day, multi-day, season). Guests can join public challenges or invite friends and family to join a challenge. Participants can track their own progress in real time throughout the challenge to see what they have left to complete, and can also see how they measure up against friends and family. Participants can post the results to Facebook for all to see!
Examples of challenges include the 5 Buck Challenge (beginner challenge earned by riding five lifts in a day at a single resort), the 10k Challenge (intermediate challenge earned by skiing 10,000 vertical feet in a day at a single resort), the King of the Hill Challenge (advanced challenge earned by skiing 300,000 vertical feet in a season) and the Vail Conqueror (expert challenge earned by riding all the chairlifts at Vail in a day).
"Skiing and riding have always been about storytelling, and EpicMix Challenges provides another way for guests to try new adventures, accomplish new things and share those accomplishments with their friends and family", said Lynch.
EpicMix debuted in 2010 as an RFID-based system which allows skiers and riders to track their days on the slopes and share their accomplishments via social media, while never getting in the way of the on-hill skiing and riding experience. The RFID chip in season passes and day tickets tracks vertical feet, number of lift rides and other data. Vail Resorts followed the original EpicMix with EpicMix Photo, EpicMix Racing and EpicMix Academy, a ski-school app. Earlier this season, EpicMix Guide was introduced to provide a step-by-step navigational guide to Vail Resorts’ destination mountains.
The EpicMix Challenges app will be available in mid-February 2015. Guests can activate their free EpicMix accounts at

Anna Fenninger Wins Second Gold in Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

Anna Fenninger (AUT) earned a hard-fought gold against a large, competitive field at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek.
Fenninger had a big mistake in the lower third of the course, but amazingly enough she still managed to finish 1.40 seconds ahead of second place finisher Viktoria Rebensburg (GER). The bronze medal went to Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby who finished 0.09 behind Rebensburg.
It was Fenninger’s third medal at these World Championships and her second golden effort with her other gold coming in the super-G in addition to a silver in the downhill.
"It is really nice and there are so many emotions. Today it’s unbelievable that this happened. I gave everything and I won everything and it’s just a great day", said Fenninger. "I had a big mistake and I knew it cost me a lot of time so I had to risk everything at the bottom of the course. When I crossed the finish line and saw the result, it was unbelievable".
With the win, Fenninger collected her second gold, and third medal overall, at these World Championships, claiming a bit of redemption over her lone bronze medal from the pressure-packed home World Championships in Schladming in 2013. She has now matched Tina Maze with two golds and a silver over the two-week event, and gave Austria its fifth gold medal and eighth overall here in Colorado.
Despite losing out on the gold medal with the last racer, Rebensburg still had reason to celebrate as she earned Germany its first medal in Beaver Creek and also had the fastest second run of all racers.
"The first run I was struggling a little bit, but I tried to push as hard as I could on the second run", said Rebensburg. "When I finished I didn't know if it would be good enough for a medal with all the other skiers left. In the end the silver is pretty amazing".
It was the first-ever World Championship medal for both Rebensburg and Lindell-Vikarby.
"I’m really happy, I’ve tried for this seven times at the World Championships and three times at the Olympics to get a medal, so I’m really pleased with how things worked out today", said Lindell-Vikarby.
Tina Maze (SLO) barely missed out on her bid to earn a medal in all five events at the World Championships. After her strong second run, she came down in third place, but was promptly knocked out of medal contention by Lindell-Vikarby. Maze can still go for a fourth medal in Saturday’s slalom.
"I felt no pressure today, I was really relaxed", said Maze. "I just didn’t have the energy to make it on the podium today. It just didn’t work out for me today. I’m fine and ready to move on an look ahead".

Thursday, February 12, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. Riders face check in Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra

FWT 2015 Journal. Face Check In Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra

The FWT has landed in a brand spanking new location, Vallnord, Andorra! In today's journal we head up the mountain with the guides to check on conditions for Fridays comp,

The Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face stop in Vallnord-Arcalis (AND) is confirmed for tomorrow Friday 13th 2015 with first start at 10am (CET). The event has been re-scheduled one day ahead to make sure the competition can happen in the best possible conditions for the riders.
Vallnord-Arcalis have proven to be more than ready for this event – even with the ever changing snow conditions the winter has delivered so far. Fortunately, the mountains here offer many great possibilities and there has been discussions and on site guide checks of options from A to E and F - all with different exposure and altitude to choose from.

The face finally chosen, the Portella d'Arcalis, was not option A, but it certainly has many line opportunities and proposes challenges of many different kinds. There is a 45 degree steep top section with narrow passages and changing snow quality. There are cliffs of all sizes and many more trees than usual in these contests.
The rider who knows this face better than anyone else is, not surprisingly, the local FWQ skier Dani Fornell (AND) who has received a wild card for this stop. He is an experienced freerider and was generously helping out some of his peers during the face check with advice. He describes the face as "...very playful. Despite it being a little short, it has a ton of different options. Hundreds of cliffs and many passages".
He went on to explain one of the bigger challenges characteristic to this face: "It's very easy to get lost, so you have to really memorize it well today", Dani explained. "I have a small advantage in that sense. But we are talking about some very, very good riders here and I know they will do well. I hope we will see many lines of very different nature, because the face really makes this possible".


FWT15 Vallnord Arcalis GoPro Course Preview

Here is the GoPro course preview from the Vallnord Arcalis Andorra Comp' face. Follow Martin Winckler and get his impressions of the face for the Freeride World Tour in Andorra.

The Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. AUDI Ice Driving Experience

In this special episode Hersha and the riders hopped on a bus to a frozen lake! What on earth for? The Audi Driving Experience of course!


Austria Takes Gold at Nations Team Event in Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

Yesterday, at Vail’s Golden Peak the Austrians won the gold and the Canadians took their second medal of the Championships. The Swedes, led by Mattias Hargin and Maria Pietilae-Holmner took a bronze medal after eliminating the Swiss in the small final.
Austria is the only nation to have won a medal in all five nations team events.
The winning foursome of Marcel Hirscher, Eva-Maria Brem, Michaela Kirchgasser and Christoph Noesig beats the Canadians led by a fiery Erin Mielzynski and Phil Brown, both of whom represented the team two years ago in Schladming. Trevor Philp and Candace Crawford rounded out the four-racer team for Canada.
"It was just a perfect day for us. Yeah, everybody was expecting us to get the gold medal, but it’s not that easy to really get it and we had a great day and it was a lot of fun. I am very happy with our gold medal", said Brem.
The Canadians were thrilled with the result. "It feels really good", said Mielzynski. "We have two people from the same team last time, and we kind of came back with a little revenge. This time we knew we could get a medal. Last time we were surprised we got through the first round. This time we knew we could do it, but I think we were most scared about going against Germany in the first round".
"We were definitely underdogs throughout the whole thing, being a young team. But for sure had a lot of fire, and had fun with it", said Philp. "I spend a lot of time up here and a lot of time in the area. This altitude, I’m happy to do it here".
The team event has been a staple of the World Championships since 2005. The competition has been held in a knockout format during the last two World Championships.
The team event has become a highlight of the spectator’s World Championships. The race is a dual paralel slalom with pro jumps—pitting a racer from one country against another. With times coming in between 22 and 24 seconds, athletes squeaked out wins by hundredths of a second. The discipline may even become an Olympic event, with the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach hinting that he had been discussing the team event with FIS.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Best Action From Morabanc Freeride Junior World Championships in Grandvalira, Andorra

With more than 210 km of runs, Grandvalira has the largest ski domain in the Pyrenees and is credited with covering the most extensive surface area in the South of Europe. Situated in the Eastern valley of Andorra, Grandvalira offers the choice between seven different sectors, so as to satisfy the most demanding customers. Artificial snow guarantees more than 60% of the ski domain, making winter sports available at any time. The resort is home to the only run in Andorra where international Alpine ski competitions can be held -one of the few in the Pyrenees. Grandvalira has hosted several races of the World cup and is a candidate to organize international Alpine ski competitions on its FIS homologated runs.

Tina Maze Tops the Combined Podium in Vail-Beaver Creek 2015

Tina Maze is the Queen of this Championships.  Three races and Tina Maze is running away with the medal count, claiming her third straight piece of metal with a victory in the alpine combined.
As the last skier down the mountain, Slovenia’s Tina Maze spoiled the Austrian party as she won the gold medal, topping Nicole Hosp by 0.22 seconds and Michaela Kirchgasser by 035 seconds in the ladies’ Alpine Combined a the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek.
"I’m totally exhausted, it’s a tough program and late start time for the slalom and it's also really warm", said Maze. "But winning is always amazing and now there’s time to recover and enjoy. Even though I’m tired I did my best and I'm happy with the win".
Maze’s run bumped Anna Fenninger to fourth place and off the podium, which seemed only fitting as the two have enjoyed a friendly rivalry at these Championships dueling for gold and silver in the speed events.
The conditions for today’s race were nearly ideal with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures greeting the field. Much like the men’s Alpine combined, the snow for the slalom race was a bit soft due to the sunny conditions, but the later skiers managed to still put down some of the quicker slalom times.
"It’s amazing for me, I’m so happy about this medal", said Hosp. "It was a long day and a hard race. I think the finish part of the downhill I was really fast and I had a good slalom and I was happy to sit in the lead until Tina came down with her really good run".After the downhill portion, Maze was the leader with a time of 1:45:25, a mere 0.02 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who finished the day in fifth place. Fenninger (AUT) ended the downhill in third place 0.26 seconds back. Maze was the fifth-fastest skier in the slalom, 0.98 behind the fastest slalom time set by Kirchgasser.
"I had a really good downhill run and my slalom was nearly a perfect run. I am so happy with my bronze medal this year after just missing the podium in fourth place in Schladming", said Kirchgasser.
Tina Maze will now go into the final two events with the chance to match Lasse Kjus’ individual record medal haul from the 1999 Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships. He won a medal in all five individual events. Maze has the giant slalom and slalom remaining, both of which she has already won on the World Cup tour this season.
"I think it would be awesome. I really hope I can (win five medals) and be in each event on the podium", said Maze.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Highlights From Morabanc Freeride Junior World Championships in Grandvalira, Andorra

With more than 210 km of runs, Grandvalira has the largest ski domain in the Pyrenees and is credited with covering the most extensive surface area in the South of Europe. Situated in the Eastern valley of Andorra, Grandvalira offers the choice between seven different sectors, so as to satisfy the most demanding customers. Artificial snow guarantees more than 60% of the ski domain, making winter sports available at any time. The resort is home to the only run in Andorra where international Alpine ski competitions can be held -one of the few in the Pyrenees. Grandvalira has hosted several races of the World cup and is a candidate to organize international Alpine ski competitions on its FIS homologated runs.

Marcel Hirscher Wins Vail-Beaver Creek 2015 Combined Gold

Marcel Hirscher’s took home his second-ever World Championship gold medal and his first-ever in the Alpine Combined.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud finished in second place thanks to his strong downhill run. After the downhill portion, Jansrud led the field with a time of 1:43:01. His impressive time saved the day for him in the slalom as his more than three-second lead evaporated at each interval. Jansrud was still in the green at the final interval, but when he crossed the finish line he saw red, finishing 0.19 seconds behind Hirscher.
American Ted Ligety finished in third place on the strength of his slalom run, giving the Americans their third medal at these home World Championships.
Hirscher’s victory is even more remarkable considering he barely eked into the Top-30, finishing in 30th place in the downhill over three seconds off the pace. The 30th place secured Hirscher the first starting place on the slalom run, which proved to be more than beneficial as the sunny skies slowly softened the slope. Only Ligety came close to matching Hirscher’s amazing slalom run time, and he was still 0.43 seconds slower.
"It is unbelievable two days ago I was debating if it made sense to start in the Super combined since my downhill training times weren’t too fast, but it seems I made a good decision. In the second run I was definitely lucky to be the first to go down", Hirscher said. "I don’t think anyone expected me to win today. I entered this championship with the goal of winning one medal of any color so anything that happens from here on out is a big bonus".
Ondrej Bank's misfortune and subsequent disqualification also had an effect on the outcome of the race. Marcel Hirscher, who finished the downhill 31st on paper, was bumped into 30th position and thus started first in the flip for slalom.
"No, I wouldn’t have won with (start) number 31", Hirscher said after the race. "But you always need luck to be in the first position. … (Bank) is a really nice guy and I wish him all the best and I hope he is coming back really soon. He showed us so many times that he is that strong to come back from injuries, so all the best and good wishes for him".
The silver is Jansrud’s first-ever World Championship medal and ends a frustrating run for him here in Vail that saw him barely miss the podium in the Super-G (fourth place) and finish well off the mark with an injured shouder in the downhill despite being an early favorite.
"It was a special day for me considering coming into the speed races and not getting anything in return", Jansrud said. "I don’t know where that slalom run came from, I’m not training any slalom these days, I knew I had a big lead going into the slalom and I knew there was a slim chance of getting a medal if I had a really good run".Marcel Hirscher says luck helped him win in the combined, but Kjetil Jansrud credits Hirscher's skill. "Many people can call it luck, but I don’t believe in luck", said Jansrud. "And I think that (Hirscher) was 30th because he’s a good skier and he makes that cut and then he gets that advantage … by starting one, he uses that advantage to ski fast and thus we have a winner that deserves the win".
It was Ligety’s sixth-ever World Championship medal and his second in the Alpine Combined, which he won in 2013 in Schladming. Hirscher’s teammate Romed Baumann just barely missed the podium, ending one spot lower than he did in Schladming, in fourth place.
"Any medal is a good medal", said Ligety after the race "I’m really surprised to be on the podium after my downhill run. I just went out and skied with reckless abandon in the slalom. It’s a pretty bizarre race that I made podium after finishing 29th in the downhill".

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's Switzerland Time and Patrick Kueng is the Speed King of the World

Switzerland landed two skiers on the World Championship downhill podium for the first time since 2009 in Val d’Isere when Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka shared the honor. But Bruno Kernen in 1997 was the last Swiss male to capture gold in a World Championships downhill.
Patrick Kueng (SUI) was joined on the podium by American Travis Ganong and Beat Feuz (SUI). It was a strong day for the host nation as Steve Nyman finished in fourth place. It was the first World Championship medal for all three skiers in the day that was filled with surprises.
"For the Swiss and for me it’s unbelievable to have two Swiss on the podium", said Feuz after the race. "This year in Wengen it was the same and now here on the Birds of Prey, it’s perfect".
 "Winning the downhill was a long time coming", said Kueng. "Sestriere in 1997 was a long time ago and of course for our federation and ski team, it was a great achievement. We have been working very hard for it. It is not very easy, sometimes to ski and to achieve your potential because it’s Switzerland and there is a lot of pressure, but I think now the climate was perfect to help us achieve this great race today".
"Sometimes I have not had a good feeling on this hill", added Kueng. "You have to go fast and you have to go with a lot of aggressiveness. But today for me was easy, and I have no mistakes and the skis go really fast. I didn’t have to push the limit, it was the key to go fast to the finish".
Many of the big names bowed out allowing for the underdogs to steal the spotlight. Kueng’s has only one previous win at the World Cup level, which came in 2014 in Wengen (SUI). Meanwhile, Ganong’s previous highest finish at a World Championship was 18th and he just earned his first World Cup victory earlier this season in Santa Caterina. Feuz’s last World Cup downhill victory came in 2012.
"It’s a very good day", said Ganong after the race. "I just turned my brain off put a smile on my face, had some fun and made some good turns. It was almost a perfect run, but it’s definitely the perfect day".
Conversely, Feuz, finishing third, found taking risk was the only way to be fast at this World Championship medal event.
"I had to take chances to achieve a great race today", said Feuz. "If you are not, you cannot ski as fast and aggressive as I did. … I did a good run and for me to be on the podium and to share the podium together with Patrick Kueng was really amazing".
Kueng finished 0.24 ahead of the pack, but the rest of the top six were packed together as a mere 0.21 separated the next five skiers.