Monday, March 30, 2015

Vail Resorts to Acquire Perisher, the Largest Mountain Resort in Australia

Vail Resorts today announced that the Company has agreed to acquire its first international mountain resort, Perisher Ski Resort in New South Wales, Australia, for total cash consideration of AU$176.6 million (approximately US$136 million), subject to certain adjustments. Perisher is the largest and most visited ski resort in Australia, and is well-positioned with access to the country’s largest cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane. Perisher is also the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 following the satisfaction of certain conditions, including approval by the New South Wales Government under the long-term lease and license noted below.
The Company is purchasing 100 percent of the stock in the entities that operate Perisher from Murray Publishers Pty Ltd and Transfield Corporate Pty Ltd in Sydney. Perisher holds a long-term lease and license with the New South Wales Government under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, which expires in 2048 with a 20-year renewal option. The acquisition includes the resort areas known as Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega, along with ski school, lodging, food and beverage, retail/rental and transportation operations, which together comprise Perisher.
"The acquisition of our first international mountain resort is a significant milestone for our Company. We’re thrilled to welcome the guests and employees of Perisher, Australia’s largest and most iconic resort, into the Vail Resorts family and deepen ties with one of our most important international markets", said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "This acquisition is part of Vail Resorts’ continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world. Australia is one of the most important international markets for ski resorts across the Northern Hemisphere, generating an estimated more than 1 million skier visits annually to resorts in North America, Japan and Europe. We see this as a ground-breaking acquisition that will dramatically enhance the connection between our Company and Australian skiers and riders. We also see the acquisition as a natural fit, as Perisher is the Australian leader in innovation and guest experience – both hallmarks of Vail Resorts".
Vail Resorts also announced that as of today, Perisher has re-opened season pass sales for its upcoming ski season, which is set to open on June 6, 2015. Perisher’s popular “Freedom Pass” is on sale for AU$749 and will include benefits substantially similar to Vail Resorts’ Epic Local Pass, with unlimited skiing and riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City and Canyons in Utah; and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada. It also will include 10 days of free skiing and riding at Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado. All U.S. resort access will be subject to certain holiday restrictions. Upon closing the acquisition, all previous purchasers of the 2015 Perisher Freedom Pass will also receive these new benefits and all Epic Pass purchasers will receive unlimited and unrestricted skiing at Perisher.
"To immediately showcase the power of this new connection, Vail Resorts is offering Perisher season pass holders an unprecedented opportunity by combining unlimited skiing, from June through October, at the best and largest resort in Australia with season-long skiing, from November through April, at nine of the best mountain resorts in the United States", said Katz. "Our Company looks forward to welcoming an even greater number of Australian guests to our domestic resorts to showcase the incredible experience we provide".
The Company indicated that it expects Perisher to generate incremental Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately AU$20 million (approximately US$16 million) during its first twelve months of operation following the acquisition. The Company expects Perisher to generate positive Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately AU$38 million (approximately US$30 million) during its ski season, June through September, and negative Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately AU$18 million (approximately US$14 million) during its off-season, October through May. Further, the Company expects Perisher to generate approximately US$6 million of free cash flow in its first year of operations, after deducting capital expenditures at the resort, income taxes (both U.S. and Australian) and all interest expense relating to the acquisition. These estimates do not include any incremental benefit of increased visitation to the Company’s U.S. resorts from Australian guests.
At closing, the Company intends to fund the purchase price with cash on hand and the revolver portion of its senior credit facility. Depending upon timing of the closing, the Company will pay the sellers or receive from the sellers the net cash flow of Perisher since January 25, 2015. In addition, the Agreement provides that the Company will pay New South Wales stamp duty related to the acquisition, estimated to be approximately AU$4 million (US$3 million). References to U.S. dollars are based upon currency exchange rates currently in effect.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons in Park City, Utah; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Freeride World Tour Champions Crowned at the Xtreme Verbier

Yesterday the battle for the FWT titles took place on the mythical 3222m (10570 ft) Bec des Rosses, all while celebrating 20 years of Xtreme. The much respected north face that has provided the stage for the Xtreme Verbier for twenty years, showed a new challenging side, being dressed in a lighter snow cover this year.

Freeride World Tour Champions 2015:

Ski Men: George Rodney (USA)
Ski Women: Eva Walkner (AUT)
Snowboard Men: Jonathan Charlet (FRA)
Snowboard Women: Estelle Balet (SUI)

Men’s Ski

In men's skiing experience beat audacity. Not in the sense of conservatism but in the ability to spot the winning lines.
Aurelien Ducroz (FRA) who has already won three times on this face and who was competing on an honorary wildcard did not let his fans down. He opened the men's skiing with a spectacular line below the highest start that set the expectations of both the judges and the crowd as to the awesomeness needed for a podium. He has now set his print in the history books as the only skier to have won the Xtreme Verbier 4 times with a score of 88.50.
"I'm just really pleased - a 4th victory for the 20th anniversary of the Xtreme! I have so much love for this face. I really feel good here,” Aurelien said emotionally. “I almost changed my line last minute and then with Reine we motivated each other and I went ahead with it. I'm so happy I don't know what to say..."
Just behind Aurelien with a score of 88.12 was another skier who has experience written all over him. Reine Barkered (SWE) went a little slower into the same line as Aurelien but quickly picked up the pace in this line leading to an enormous cliff that he landed perfectly in the exposed area, making it possible for him to take immediate control of the acceleration despite the very steep part of the face. Another A-run from the stomp master that he ended shooting down over the apron at the bottom.
The skier in the golden bib, George Rodney (USA) had quite a comfortable position to reach out for the World Champion title getting into today's contest. All he needed to be untouchable was a 5th place. He knew that he couldn't just play it safe though, especially having Jeremie Heitz (SUI) in his heels, hungry for a win on home turf. George laid out with a big top air getting straight into the game and skied fast and strong down a technical line for a 3rd place finish and a score of 87.75, bringing the rookie the World Champion title after a a very tight top of the field to day and a fantastic season on the FWT.
"Pretty much speechless. My dream came true today – and a lot of hard work that I've put in, has finally paid off", said an obviously moved new World Champion. "It's just so cool – I'm stoked - First time on tour, first time here, first win in Alaska – it's a season of firsts!"

Women’s Ski

The women's ski podium provided everything from bold and ballsy lines, executed whole heartedly and to perfection
by the young Hazel Birnbaum (USA) to the experience-driven line choice of Christine Hargin (SWE). In between was the creativity of the young rookie Silvia Moser (ITA).
The battle for the title was already won by Eva Walkner (AUT) this Monday in Haines, Alaska. Today she had to give in to the classic release of pressure after such a big accomplishment, but hungry hearts were more than ready to step in.
Hazel had spotted the winning line, and the way she rode it got the crowds screaming in excitement twice! First when she stomped an exposed double up top and second after another big double on the bottom. She scored 88.00 standing out as the only woman scoring in the 80es.
"As my rookie year I feel like I learned a lot and I got to be inspired by a lot of incredible women that I've looked up to for so many years, so it's an incredible privilege and an honor to even be part of this event. I'm beyond ecstatic!", Hazel expressed after realizing her outstanding performance.
Fresh off a win in Alaska, Silvia Moser picked an original line all the way out the skier's left of the face and with a committed run lining up feature after feature, she scored 76.25 and took 2nd place.
Christine Hargin showed her experience in knowing exactly how far to take the risk aspect for putting down a solid run evolving around two main features and good speed. The 2012 World Champion could thus walk away with a strong finish to the season and a 3rd place with a score of 72.75.

Men's Snowboard

In the men's snowboard category the battle was very tight and a podium result today was crucial to anybody contending to grab the title. The situation translated directly into what will probably be remembered as one of the most diverse and next-level snowboard freeride event of all times. As if paying tribute to the Bec des Rosses and its greatness and surprises, the riders incessantly showed new interpretations of the face, making for the supreme showcase of what is possible on a snowboard.
Jonathan Charlet (FRA) had the chance of taking over Sammy Luebke (USA) in the overall if he won today's event – provided that the super smooth American rider didn't finish second. Jonathan stepped up to the challenge and delivered a mind-blowing run, perfectly mixing playfulness into his trademark big mountain style of riding, ending it up flying down the apron in what could have been the forerun for wingsuit pilot, Geraldine Fasnacht (SUI).
An incredible score of 91.00 set Jonathan straight to the top.
"I'm super stoked! Everything was just great. I realized a run without any pressure – extraordinary! Long live the Argentois", the new World Champion said with a salute to his hometown.
Jonathan can thank the - as of today - former World Champion, Emilien Badoux (SUI) for taking care of the rest needed to secure the title. Emilien has been out with injury all season, but he showed that he is more than just back in the game. He rode an amazing line where he used the big middle feature below start number 2 as a transfer over to a no-fall zone with a huge triple that no-one else had spotted so far. Stomping 1-2-3 he was completely in sync with her Majesty the 'Bec' earning him 85.75. This put him in front of Sammy who had chosen a third approach. He laid out with the cliff right below start number 1 giving him VIP entrance into the more open patch, finally setting himself up for a very technical finish with two big drops in the fall line earning him a score of 82.75. Good for a 3rd place in this great celebration of 20 years of snowboard on the 'Bec' - yet just 30 ranking points away from the title.
Not on the podium but definitely deserving to be mentioned was the absolute veteran (19 out of 20 possible starts on the Bec des Rosses), Steve Klassen (USA). And what a classy rider! Staying right on top of his game for 19 years, taking features of all shapes and sizes all the way to the very bottom of the face like a certain pink rabbit with excellent batteries.

Women’s Snowboard

Wildcard and former Olympic Champion, Nicola Thost (GER) showed that she has ridden off any wildcard intimidation and re-found her freedom to flow. She set herself apart today, with a score of 71.00 - 16 points more than number two!
"My plan for today worked out really well. It was a perfect day, and I knew from the beginning that I would have a lot of fun. It was super fun to ride this mountain and I’m absolutely stoked I could take the win", the winner said afterwards. "The snow conditions were fine, and it’s just awesome to win Verbier. There’s really a positive vibe going on at this event, and this helps a lot to have fun and stay focussed at the same time".
The battle for the title in the women's snowboard category was between Shannan Yates (USA) and Estelle Balet (SUI).
While Shannan caught up with Estelle in Alaska, Estelle knew how to use her home advantage in Verbier. Opening the contest in the line that Nicola also chose, unfortunately some slough lead her to a minor stop in the flow, but the difficulty of her airs were enough to give her the 2nd place today with a score of 55.00.
Shannan tried to make the difference with a technical line on riders' left which allowed her to keep a good flow but without the same difficulty of features. Enough though to squeeze in on the podium just one quarter of a point ahead of Anne-Flore Marxer (SUI/FRA) with a score of 52.25.

The top 16 Ski Men, 8 Snowboard Men, 7 ski women and 4 snowboard women of the final FWT ranking are directly qualified for the FWT 2016.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Swatch Freeride World Tour 2015 Xtreme Verbier

The Freeride World Tour 2015 final will be held in Verbier, at the Xtreme Verbier on the Bec Des Rosses venue on Saturday march 28th for the 20th edition.

The Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face stop in Verbier (SUI) is confirmed for tomorrow Saturday March 28th 2015 with first start at 9:00am CET.
The mountain of the Bec des Rosses in Verbier has provided the stage for the Xtreme Verbier every year since 1996. That means 20 Years of Xtreme for this event which now every year marks the Grande Finale of a full professional freeride circuit – known as the Freeride World Tour (FWT). The 20th edition of the Xtreme Verbier will be celebrated with festivities and shows. The highlight, however, will be the show put on by the FWT athletes who will be fighting for the Champion title on the 'Bec' along with certain famous riders who have received wild cards to compete in this special edition.
A total 14 men and 8 women will be competing in the skiing category and 9 men and 5 women in snowboard. This includes the top 12 from the men's ski current FWT ranking, top 6 from the men's snowboard and women's skiing categories and the top 4 from the women's snowboard. The rest are the special wild cards that have been awarded for the competition.
A spectators village will be set up at the Col de Gentianes on top of the Jumbo lift, from where there is a perfect view of the competition face. The whole event can also be followed from the Event Village, rue de Médran, via live streaming on the giant screen.
The Event Village offers many other activities from Friday to Sunday with a full program of happenings such as concerts, DJ, slackline initiation and demonstrations... as well as Après-ski and parties! The official FWT partners will also be presenting their newest collections in their respective stands.
True to the tradition there will be an FWT Autograph Session on Friday at 6pm leading up to the Official Opening Ceremony at 6:30pm. The Official Prize Giving Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 5.30pm just after the Xtreme Verbier 20th anniversary special ceremony which will take place at 5pm.
Coming along to celebrate the 20 Years of Xtreme are former champions and other VIPs such as Sverre Liliequist (SWE), Seb Michaud (FRA), Giulia Monego (ITA), Géraldine Fasnacht (SUI), Jérôme Ruby (FRA), Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) and more.
The Freeride Junior World Tour will also have its final contest of the season on Saturday. It will happen on the 'Junior Bec' just to the lookers left of the Bec des Rosses. Everything is thus set up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this epic event as it deserves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Salomon Freeski TV: Ruapehu

The volcanoes of Tongariro National Park in NZ mark the most treasured spot in all of Maori culture. Mike Douglas, Chris Rubens, and Josh Daiek gain unprecidented access to these sacred lands.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FWT 2015 In Haines, Alaska

The event in Haines, Alaska was a true show of freeride at its best. It was a nine day wait for the weather to play along but everyone seemed to know that it would be all worth it. The setting was like an Alaskan postcard with fresh powder under a clear blue sky and with a big glacier as a backdrop. Having shown great form all season, Eva Walkner (AUT) had a solid lead in women's skiing coming into the event. With four out of five results counting for the final ranking, and Eva counting one win and 2nd places in all the other events, she can now call herself World Champion no matter how she performs in Verbier. The suspense for the titles in the other categories is still intact as the Freeride World Tour moves into the final event.
The athletes delivered mind-blowing performances, whether fighting to grab the title or simply attempting to qualify for the last stage of the season in Verbier (SUI) on March 28. The conditions on the 740 vertical meters (2300 ft) competition face, The Venue, were close to perfect with knee deep, blower powder covering the characteristic long and impressive spines.

Men’s Ski
The skier in the golden bib, George Rodney (USA) was charging this face like there was no tomorrow, using his floating features to reposition himself so as to keep the control without ever having to turn his skis more than 45 degrees to the fall line despite the sustained extreme pitch of this face. His gutsy run earned him a score of 87.75 and his second win of the season though this was a completely different animal than the more closed face in Andorra. One of the highlights of his run was his fast reaction of pointing everything in the fall line in the steepest part of the face to save an imbalance – a very counter-intuitive move in such terrain that shows the level of mastery of this young rider. "I can't believe it - that was the coolest run I've ever done in my life,” he said at the bottom. “It's the best face I've been on. It is like two venues".
Jérémie Heitz (SUI) put anyone believing that he would actually slow down his usual Mach 3 skiing style here on The Venue in Haines to shame. Despite the many blind parts on this double roll-over face he sent it directly, aggressively and with perfect fluidity, putting his more difficult airs in at the top and then focusing on speed like no other rider. This tactic put him in 2nd place with score of 81.00.
Close behind and in 3rd place was Kevin Guri (FRA) who scored 80.00 with a high paced run including an impressive cliff band.

Women’s Ski
The women skiers really put everything out there to qualify for Verbier resulting in three DNFs. Silvia Moser (ITA) made the run of her season and took her first FWT victory with a score 84.00. She chose a very technical top section with a steep double and then opted for shoot with no tracks at the bottom. "I had a very cool run, I had fun and did everything I wanted to do", the successful Tour rookie commented. "I am very happy. It is the best run of the winter so far".
The woman of the day was Eva Walkner (AUT) who took her third 2nd place of the season with a very intelligent approach that demonstarted her knowledge of Alaskan conditions. She went for a technical line without gambling with speed yet got her features in as planned knowing exactly what was needed to secure her title before enjoying the powder on the more mellow part in the fresh snow to skiers right. "I went for all the things that I had planned and did some of the best powder turns of my life. It was fun!", She says about her run. Still needing to fully realize that she is actually the World Champion, she is just relieved that her struggles with injuries are behind her and that the hard work has paid off: "It was two years of hard work and coming back from injury and winning the title I have no words for it!".
The 3rd place went to Francesca Ace Pavillard-Cain (USA) with a score 65.00. She put in some very nice features with good speed but some balance struggles in the landings cost her a few points.

Men's Snowboard
 The men's snowboard category started the contest shortly after 9.15am (AKDT) (6.15pm CET). First out of the Swatch gate was Sammy Luebke (USA) and he certainly didn't throw away this incredible opportunity to open the new FWT Alaskan venue in style. With his usual smooth riding, he started out with a lot of speed pulling a double in the steepest part of the face. He managed to keep that level of action all the way down the face including a well executed 360 and another big feature. He put his competitors under pressure right away with a whopping score of 90.00, giving him the win in the end. "Everything lined up the way I thought. I'm excited to go to Verbier!" Sammy summed up his day at work.
Flo Orley (AUT) was last to go in the men's snowboard category and he confirmed that he is on fire this season with an all-out, perfectly ridden line including the biggest fly of the day in his category charging out over the rollover leading into the steep bottom section. He took 2nd place scoring 87.00, thus removing the chances of Jonathan Charlet (FRA) to make an early claim at the FWT title at this event.
The 3rd podium place went to Colin Boyd (USA) who was also on track to challenge Sammy until a small loss of control after a 360 took his score one notch down to 82.00

Women’s Snowboard
Shannan Yates (USA) was in charge of keeping the battle for the title in this category open still. By winning here she closed in on Estelle Balet (SUI) who placed second. Both showed fast and fluid riding, but where Estelle took higher risks especially on speed, she paid by a bit of loss of control in the steepest section leaving her behind Shannan's 79.50 with a score of 75.00. Shannan was very happy with her run, having managed to pull out of some slough without breaking her flow too much.
"It feels amazing! I got to ride fantastic Alaskan powder. I had a small section of snow break on me but I was able to ride it out and it didn't phase me", said the happy winner. "I am so excited to be here in Alaska it is just a great, great event". Elodie Mouthon (FRA) opened up the central shoot and put in a strong finish, earning her the 3rd place with a score of 69.00.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Vail Resorts Launches the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack

Vail Resorts Launches Unprecedented New Program Offering Free Skiing and Riding for All K-5 School Kids on the "Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack".
Skiing and riding at Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains just got even more accessible for families with a value and new level of accessibility unmatched and previously unavailable anywhere. Vail Resorts announced today that it has re-imagined its program for fifth and sixth graders, formerly known as School of Shred, to now include all kindergarten through fifth graders. Renamed "Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack", the program provides four days of free skiing and riding at each of the best resorts in their backyard – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. In addition to four free days, Epic SchoolKids also get the opportunity to hone their skills at the ivy league of ski schools with a free full-day beginner lesson and equipment rentals at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone in the month of January, outside of holiday periods, as part of Learn to Ski & Ride Month.
"Colorado kids are in a most enviable position having the Rocky Mountains on their doorstep", said Governor John Hickenlooper. "As a Colorado-based company, Vail Resorts is providing a tremendous opportunity for our community, our families and our kids, to get outside, explore the mountains, and learn and play in the outdoors. Opening up the possibility for kids’ participation in snowsports – some who may never before have dreamed that they could enjoy such an experience – is an important effort in ensuring that Colorado is the healthiest state in the country for generations to come".
"Fostering a love for skiing and snowboarding in kids is a top priority for Vail Resorts", said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. "As a Colorado-based company, it is incredibly important that we continue to find ways to connect kids and families in our local communities and around the state with the mountains and the many benefits of snow sports. The Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack gives kids the opportunity to experience the thrill of skiing and riding at the best resorts in Colorado. We’re excited to extend such an unprecedented opportunity to families and to share the mountains in which we work, live and play with so many children who have not before had the opportunity to experience them in the winter", she explained.
Eligible Epic SchoolKids simply need to bring their mom, dad or guardian in to participating Front Range Colorado Ski & Golf, Colorado Ski & Sport and Boulder Ski Deals locations to register for an Epic SchoolKids Pack, beginning Monday, March 23, through Memorial Day. Epic SchoolKids must present a copy of their report card, school ID or birth certificate, as well as a photo for their pass. A parent or guardian will be asked to sign a release and then watch the mailbox for the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack.
"There’s no better way to ignite a child’s passion for snowsports than in the fun and safe environment of ski school", said Fred Rumford, director of the ski and ride school for Keystone Resort. "In the spirit of Learn to Ski & Ride Month, we wanted to extend the opportunity for kids who’ve not had the opportunity to ski or ride before to experience our world-class ski and ride schools with a free beginner lesson and full day of equipment rentals, so they can learn from a pro and hopefully make some new friends at the same time. Getting kids outside, participating in snow sports and being active in the outdoors is beneficial for a whole host of reasons, including building self-esteem, encouraging active family play and a respect and care for the environment", he added.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons in Park City, Utah; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Anna Fenninger Wins Giant Slalom Race and Title and Takes the Overall Globe

The 2014-2015 Audi FIS World Cup came to an end on Sunday in Méribel with the last race of the season finally going to Austria's Anna Fenninger, who retained the overall title, after a suspenseful battle against her rival Tina Maze.
The 31-year-old Slovenian had a slim eighteen-point lead over Anna Fenninger heading into the race. Third out of the gate, Fenninger clocked the fastest time in the first run and saw Tina Maze come close to her mark, just 0.27 seconds out.
The second leg was just breathtaking as Fenninger managed to hold on to her position after an outstanding performance to take the win, 0.38 seconds ahead of team-mate Eva-Maria Brem. Tina Maze put everything on the line to put pressure on Fenninger but had to be content with third place, 0.46 seconds off the pace.
"There was so much pressure today and it was hard to stay focused", said Fenninger. "I was so nervous before the run. When I came through the finish and saw the green light, it was just incredible. I am so happy to be standing as the winner today. This is what I have worked for during some many years".
With the win, Fenninger also secured the Small Globe with 542 points in the giant slalom standings, 106 points ahead of Eva-Maria Brem and 185 points ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin.
"It's been a perfect season for me", Fenninger added. "There are so many people behind me who worked for these globes. I am very thankful to them".
Maze’s end to the winter almost kept pace, but she will leave Meribel disappointed after leading the overall standing for most of the season. She will more than likely look back at the weekend in Maribor where she failed to finish both races as the turning point that allowed Fenninger to creep back into contention. At the end of the day, she lost the title by a mere 22 points despite finishing no worse than fourth at the four events here at World Cup Finals and almost matching Fenninger’s podium streak. She finished second or third in six of the final 10 races.
Maze fell behind in the standings last weekend in Are, Sweden, for the first time since December. It was later revealed that she was dealing with a stomach bug during that weekend and was unable to muster the energy needed to be competitive on the second runs. There has been ongoing speculation that Maze may not race next season, but nothing has been announced formally at the moment. For now, she will leave Meribel looking up at Fenninger with her immediate future in the sport of ski racing in doubt.
"I had a great end of the season", said Maze. "I am really proud of that. But I lost too many points in Maribor or St. Moritz and even in Are when I wasn’t feeling that well. But Anna deserves it. In the end it was fun. It was tight, and it made it interesting. Either win or lose, we were there. I am happy about that".

Marcel Hirscher Wins Race and Takes Slalom and Overall Titles

Marcel Hirscher did it again: he walks away with the globe after winning the final Slalom race of the season at Meribel ahead of Giuliano Razzoli  +0.83 and Alexander Khoroshilov +1.09!
Sunday’s giant slalom was supposed to be the final showdown day between Marcel Hirscher and Kjetil Jansrud in what has been a season long battle for the Overall title and between Hirscher and Felix Neureuther for the slalom title. Coming into the last race of the season Hirscher was leading by 60 points ahead of Jansrud but trailing 55 points behind Neureuther.
While a scenario where Jansrud would score a 4th place or better in slalom with Hirscher not winning any points seemed highly unlikely, the Norwegian decided not to take any unnecessary risk in a discipline he hardly skis and on Saturday evening he got pulled off the slalom start list making Hirscher’s 4th Overall title official a few hours earlier than anticipated.
"I didn’t want any fuss about the Overall yesterday, Marcel still had a shot at the slalom title and I thought it would be good to let him focus on it. It just seemed fair. We all knew that gaining 60 points on Marcel in slalom would be an impossible task for me so I decided to not ski. When you don’t ski you can’t be on the start list so my coach pulled me off the board last night and made it official. It’s all good by me", Jansrud explained his decision while chilling in the finish area and watching the race.
Despite finishing second, Jansrud could not have been happier about his season and the two speed globes he earned.
"It has been a great season, I don’t feel like I am losing out on the Overall, I had a good fight. Instead of putting all my focus on not winning the Overall I’ll put it on being really happy with what I have achieved. It has been an amazing ride this season", he said.
With the Overall sorted early, all eyes were on the developments of the slalom title. In the first run, Hirscher laid down a strong run and was sitting in third place, while Neureuther made a very costly mistake just a few gates before the finish line and finished 14th, 1.74 seconds behind the leader Stefano Gross.
This development weighted heavily in Hirscher’s favor and Hirscher made the most out of it by skiing a perfect second run and taking home both the race and slalom title victories.
"It was definitely a tough situation, I am really sorry for Felix as he was so close to his first globe. But you know, it’s part of our sport", Hirscher said. "I am super happy, because before the race I was in a very unusual position, normally I didn’t stand a chance but the victory made it possible and I’m thrilled".
Hirscher has been in a similar position only last year when Neureuther was leading the standings going into the last race of the season and Hirscher managed to “steal” the title from him by edging him by 15 points. Today it felt almost as if history was repeating itself.
"There was no pressure. There is only an opportunity you have when you are in my situation and it’s to try to give it 100%, ski as fast as you can. No tactics. If everything works well it’s perfect and if I skied out it would have been ok as well. Its not the end of the world", he explained.
Neureuther was obviously disappointed by his second missed chance to win the slalom title especially as it seemed as the nerves got the best of him. The back pain that he has been suffering from on and off through the season decided to come back in the last weeks, making it even more challenging for the German to ski the way he had planned to.
"It’s tough for me. I have to say much respect for Marcel. He did an amazing job today", said Neureuther. "Marcel won the overall globe, the GS globe. Of course maybe for him it was a little bit easier than the last race. He had nothing to lose and I didn’t feel that good anymore the last two weeks. My back didn’t feel that good anymore. And then, yeah, it goes quick in skiing".

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FWT15 Haines, Alaska GoPro Course Preview. Comp is Rescheduled For Tomorrow

The idea of a third attempt at holding this Alaskan stage in Haines yesterday looked very promising according to the weather forecast. However, Mother Nature had decided differently. The conditions were such that the attempt could be called off early, avoiding that the riders had to go on a helicopter ride out to the Venue in vain again and eventually get stuck up in the mountains with weather coming in.
 With this window now closed, FWT General Manager, Nicolas Hale-Woods (SUI), announced that due to the snow storm forecast the event is called off for the day. Saturday is not an option neither. Expressing the strong will of the riders as well as the organizers to bring this ambitious dream event alive, it has been decided to prolong the stay in Haines, Alaska despite the logistic challenges and financial implications that this incurs. Being so close, the fabulous snow conditions, and that beauty of the competition face all feed the motivation to wait out another storm and give it one more try.
Next Possible Competition Day is Sunday.

Henrik Krisoffersen Wins The Giant Slalom Race, Marcel Hirscher Takes GS Title

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen won the giant slalom in Meribel, while Marcel Hirscher took a big step toward a record fourth straight overall title after placing fourth.
Marcel Hirscher earned a Crystal Globe today in the giant slalom at the Audi FIS World Cup Season Finals in Meribel (FRA), although he might have been hoping to take home its bigger brother as well. Hirscher already had the giant slalom globe secured entering today’s race and had the chance to also wrap up the Overall Title, but Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) kept his hopes alive to challenge for the big globe after skiing to an 11th-place finish thanks to strong second run.
Hirscher now leads Jansrud by 60 points in the hunt for the Overall Title with only tomorrow’s slalom remaining. Admittedly, Jansrud’s chances are not too great considering Hirscher is a technical specialist and slalom being one of his strongest events. The Norwegian essentially has to finish in the top-two in tomorrow’s slalom and hope for Hirscher to DNF or finish outside the top 15 in order to win the Overall Title, both highly unlikely scenarios. Nevertheless, the mathematical chance is still alive for the Norwegian, who won both the downhill and super-G globes this season.
"I want to congratulate Kjetil for his unbelievable performance today, he really had me sweating up top before I started and I knew I had to give my total 100 percent. But it all comes down to if Kjetil does the slalom or not", Hirscher said of the battle for the Overall Title.
Hirscher has five podium finishes this year in the slalom in contrast to just one DNF, which happened in January in Wengen. Jasnrud’s best-ever finish in the slalom came in 2005 in Beaver Creek where he ended in fourth place. The last time the Norwegian finished in the Top-30 in a World Cup slalom was in 2011 in Alta Badia.
Hirscher finished today’s race in fourth place. Earning bragging rights on the day was Jansrud’s teammate and junior sensation Henrik Krisoffersen who led already after the first run and ended up topping the field by 0.79 seconds. Germany’s Fritz Dopfer finished in second place, trailed by Thomas Fanara (FRA), who gave the Meribel fans reason to wave their red, white and blue flags.
"It is an unbelievable moment. Ted (Ligety) has been dominating the GS for the last few years and it was a long wait to get closer to him so for me it is very satisfying today", said Hirscher of winning the giant slalom globe.
Hirscher entered today's race with a 185-point lead over Alexis Pinturault (FRA) in the giant slalom taking a bit of the pressure off for the Austrian in the race for the small globe. Ultimately, the Pinturault finished 203 points behind Hirscher, while Ted Ligety rounded out the top three in the season standings for the event.
Today’s results mean that both the ladies’ and men’s 2014/15 Overall Titles will come down to the final race. For the ladies it is a battle between Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze, who have a mere 18 point difference, while the men will feature the duel between Hirscher and Jansrud.
The Audi FIS World Cup 2014/15 season will come to a close tomorrow when the men race the slalom, while the ladies’ wrap-up their season with a giant slalom in Meribel (FRA).

Mikaela Shiffrin Takes Slalom Victory and Title in Meribel

Mikeala Shiffrin made it a slalom three-peat today at the Audi FIS World Cup Finals in Meribel (FRA) as she earned her third straight Season Title in the slalom, topping Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter for bragging rights.
Shiffrin entered today’s race with a healthy 90-point lead, meaning she basically only needed to cross the finish line to grab the title. But Hansdotter put up a good fight as she led Shiffrin by 0.07 seconds after the first run and ended up finishing in second place in the race behind the American, only 0.05 seconds off the pace. Veronika Zuzulova hung on to third.. It was Shiffrin’s fifth slalom victory this season.
"Frida has been pushing me hard all season, she’s been skiing so fast and I really had to give it my all in the second run to get the win today", said Shiffrin after the race. "When I hit the flat section I had a good feeling, but knew I had to give it everything I had if I wanted to win and luckily it worked out".
Shiffrin ended up winning the slalom globe by a 110-point margin ahead of Hansdotter, while Tina Maze (SLO) finished well behind the two-horse race ending 240 points behind in third place.
In the other major storyline of the weekend, Anna Fenninger (AUT) and Maze are still both in the hunt for the Overall Title. Fenninger entered the race with a 32-point lead against Maze, but the tables have turned after today’s slalom as Maze holds a very precarious 18-point lead after finishing in fourth place vs. Fenninger’s 23rd.
Fenninger is not a traditional slalom skier as her last appearance in the event was in 2011, but with points at a premium, the Austrian took the chance to race today. Tomorrow should be a different story as Fenninger and Maze quite evenly matched in the giant slalom, with Fenninger being the defending champion in the event. They will duke it out in the grand finale race tomorrow to see who wins the Overall Title.
Today was the first time all week that clouds rolled into Meribel. The cloud cover provided some relief for the softening course conditions, but temperatures were still in the double digits still making it far-from-easy for the racers, especially in the second run.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Switzerland Wins Team Event

Today at the Audi FIS World Cup Season Finals in Meribel (FRA), there was no talk of globes and titles as the athletes took a break from securing World Cup discipline points to take part in the Nation’s Team Event.
The winning team of Charlotte Chable, Michelle Gisin, Wendy Holdener, Gino Caviezel, Justin Mursier and Reto Schmidiger topped Germany, Italy and Sweden en route to the first-place finish.
The action-packed parallel event was filled with tight head to head battles among the seven competing nations. As the top-ranked team, Austria had a bye in the first round, but was ousted by the Swedes in the semi-finals. With the Austrians out of the picture, and World Championship runner-up Canada not entering a team, the field was wide open for the rce to the top step of the podium.
Germany, France and Slovenia all made first-round exits, leaving the semi-final match-ups of Austria against Sweden and Switzerland vs. Italy. The Swiss and Swedes earned victories and a berth into the finals, which the Swiss won on the last run in a closely contested race. Austria took third place in the small final against the Italians, keeping their podium streak alive.
A favourite of the athletes who have the rare opportunity to treat skiing as a team sport, the Nation’s Team Event also impressed the spectators with its ‘March Madness’ knock-out format. Austria has won a medal at every edition of the Team event since the event entered the World Championship program in 2005.
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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lindsey Vonn Takes Super-G Victory and Title in Meribel

Lindsey Vonn picked up her second Crystal Globe at the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Season Finals after winning the super-G, 28 points and 0.49 seconds, ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger. Only eight points separated the speed queens entering today’s race, making it a fight to the finish.
Fenninger came down with Bib 15 into first place with a time of 1:08:19. All the Austrian could do was wait and see what Vonn would do four racers later. By the second interval it was clear that Vonn was on top of her game as she already built a 0.41 advantage. By the time she crossed the finish line, she held a 0.49 lead and cruised to her second speed title of the 2014/15 season.
"Anna put a lot of pressure on me. I knew she was leading when I was at the top and I just skied as hard as I could", said Vonn. "I was definitely on the limit, especially at the bottom. I just attacked like I had nothing to lose. I’m just thrilled with the win today and the second Crystal Globe this season".
It was an amazing 19th-career Crystal Globe for Vonn and her fifth-career super-G title. It is also the fifth time that Vonn has won both the super-G and downhill titles in the same year, a record in ladies’ skiing. Today was Vonn’s eighth speed victory in an amazing comeback season and her tenth podium.
"I think this year was up-and-down", said Vonn of her comeback season. "I didn’t have a chance to get in a lot of training because of my injuries. But when I have training and I have confidence, I ski like I did this weekend".
Tina Maze (SLO) finished in third place behind the duo in both the race and in the super-G season standings.
The competition between Vonn, Fenninger and Maze was tight this season in downhill and super-G. While Fenninger and Maze were the darlings of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February, Vonn stole the speed spotlight at this weekend’s Season Finals.
But the attention will soon turn back to Fenninger and Maze, who are locked in a tight race for the Overall Title. With both finishing in the Top Three today, it did little to help predict a clear favorite heading into the weekend’s giant slalom and slalom. Fenninger holds a very slim 32-point lead over Maze setting up a thrilling finale on Saturday and Sunday. Vonn is well off the mark, trailing the two by 411 points in third place.
For both the men and the ladies, this year's downhill and super-G globes were swept by one skier. Vonn earned both speed titles for the ladies, while Norway's Kjetil Jansrud did the same on the men's side.

Dustin Cook Wins The SG Race, Jansrud Takes SG Title

Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) may not have won today’s battle in the super-G at the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Season Finals in Meribel (FRA), but he won the season’s war as he officially collected his Crystal Globe as the top super-G skier for the 2014/2015 season.
Jansrud ultimately finished in second place just 0.05 seconds behind underdog Dustin Cook (CAN). Cook has come on extremely strong late in the season after winning the silver medal in the super-G at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February in Vail (USA) and taking third in the super-G in Kvitfjell (NOR) earlier this month. But today was the icing on the cake for the Canadian as it marked his first-ever World Cup victory.
"This was the goal for sure, I really wanted to win", said Cook. "I’m definitely not used to this, maybe someone like Kjetil who wins a lot, but this is all new and all exciting for me and I couldn’t be happier. It’s unbelievable", said Cook.
"Its special coming into the race and knowing you’ve won the (super-G) globe. I had a lot of motivation for the race and wanted to go for the win, but I’m still pretty pleased with second place – the sun is shining and I can’t complain", said Jansrud.
With the super-G globe already decided heading into today’s race, it was a chance for other storylines to take center stage. Cook’s maiden victory was clearly a highlight, in addition to Didier Defago’s last race on the World Cup tour. The long-time Swiss veteran received a lengthy standing ovation when he crossed the finish line.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lindsey Vonn Wins Downhill Race To Claim Title

It was a fight to the end for the ladies’ 2014/15 downhill Season Title between Lindsey Vonn (USA) and Anna Fenninger (AUT). In the end, Vonn took home the small crystal globe after a victory at the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Meribel (FRA).
Vonn held a slim 35-point lead in the downhill standings heading into today’s race and racing down just after Fenninger, who sat in fourth place after her run, Vonn laid down a solid run and was in the green when she crossed the finish line, where she staed through the last few skiers.
Fenninger settled for eighth place on the day and now sits in a precarious position in her defense of the Overall Season Title as she lost a large part of her advantage over Tina Maze (SLO) and now leads by just 12 points.
It was Vonn’s seventh downhill season title and her 18th overall crystal globe, both records for the ladies’ Alpine World Cup tour.
"It's incredible after being out with two knee operations it is just amazing to be sitting where I am today", said Vonn after the win. "I'm so proud and happy and I really have to thank the people that supported me and got me back to where I am now".
The warm conditions challenged the ladies’ field as they fought the rapidly softening snow throughout the race, despite an earlier scheduled start time. Three skiers in the small field of 22 did not finish the race. Fenninger and Vonn started with bib 16 and 17 making the hunt for the globe even in terms of course conditions.
Today, Vonn topped Austria’s Elisabeth Georgl and Nicole Hosp by 0.24 and 0.30 seconds, respectively. Fourth place went to Maze, while Carolina Ruiz Castillo (ESP) who is retiring after this season, also had a strong showing, ending just shy of the podium in sixth place.
Vonn ended up winning the downhill globe by 103 points ahead of Fenninger, while Maze took third place in the discipline standings.
Fenninger is also in a fight for the Overall World Cup which just heated up with Fenninger holding the tiny lead after Maze's fourth-place finish. Fenninger is the current defending champion of the ladies’ Overall World Cup title.

Kjetil Jansrud Wins Downhill Race and Title

Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud showed that he is indeed the king of the 2014/15 speed events as he won today’s downhill at the Audi FIS World Cup Season Finals in Meribel (FRA), earning the Season Title in downhill.
Today’s victory put the icing on the cake of a dream season for the Norwegian. Jansrud already clinched the crystal globe in the super-G prior to this weekend’s finals, and now has nine victories in speed events this season and 12 total podiums. But the work is not finished yet for Jansrud as he is still in the hunt for the Overall Season Title against Austria’s Marcel Hirscher. Tomorrow’s super-G will be Jansrud’s last chance to get points in the tight battle.
"It’s pretty amazing, this was the first race this season where I was feeling little bit of pressure but it’s an amazing feeling pulling it off", said Jansrud after the victory. "Getting the globe and winning the race is a pretty amazing and I’m just enjoying the moment".
After today’s race, Hirscher still holds a 64-point lead over Jansrud in the Overall standings, putting the onus on Jansrud to gather as many points tomorrow in the super-G to try to move ahead in the standings and put the pressure back on Hirscher for the weekend’s technical events.
It was t-shirt weather in Meribel today, which made for excellent conditions for the packed crowd, but less than ideal snow for the racers, who fought against quickly softening conditions. Didier Defago (SUI), who is retiring after tomorrow’s super-G, almost pulled off a fairy tale race as he came down with Bib 1 and nearly hung on for the victory as he sat in the leader box until Jansrud spoiled his party 17 racers later.
"When I came here this weekend it was my goal to ski and make it to the podium so it’s a great feeling", said Defago. "I’m very happy and now I just enjoy this day and all the emotions that go with it. I have a lot of friends and family here so it’s a very nice finish for me".
Jansrud was one of the few late starters that was able to conquer the soft snow as he edged Defago by 0.24 seconds. Defago still had a silver lining as he got on the podium finishing in second place in his next-to-last race, just ahead of Austria’s Georg Streitberger.
Jansrud won the downhill globe by a 96-point margin ahead of Hannes Reichelt (AUT), but it was a battle until the last race as the Norwegian held a slim 20-point lead heading into today's race and was in a must-win situation. Guillermo Fayed (FRA) finished third in the season standings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals. Meribel 2015

World Cup Finals 2015, Meribel (FRA).
Méribel the french ski resort located at the heart of the 3 Valleys, will give France the opportunity to host for the first time the Skiing World Cup Finals from the 18th to the 22nd March 2015.
Thanks to the International Ski Federation (FIS) and with the support of the French Ski Federation (FFS), Méribel will host the Finals of the Alpine Ski World Cup Finals. An incredible opportunity for this fantastic Savoyard ski resort, to build on its reputation as an organiser of major sporting events. This competition will see the top 25 men and women compete in all alpine disciplines only one month after the Alpine World Championships.
The Season Finals are always a special event for the ski family. Not only is it an exciting sprint to finish as athletes compete for the World Cup Overall Titles, it is also a chance for the entire Alpine family to come together one last time before the off-season arrives.

2015 World Cup Finals Program:

Tuesday, March 17th. Opening Ceremony. 18:00. La Chaudanne Finish area
Wednesday, March 18th Downhill. Men 9:30 / Ladies 11:30
Thursday, March 19th Super G. Men 9:30 / Ladies 11:30
Friday, March 20th. Nations Team Event / Mixed 10:30
Saturday, March 21st Slalom Ladies. 1st Run 9:00 - 2nd Run 11:30
Saturday, March 21st Giant Slalom Men. 1st Run 10:00 - 2nd Run 12:30
Sunday, March 22nd Slalom Men. 1st Run 9:00 - 2nd Run 11:30
Sunday, March 22nd Giant Slalom Ladies. 1st Run 10:00 - 2nd Run 12:30


Meribel is home to the formidable Roc De Fer racecourse for Men and Women.
The Roc De Fer features a vertical drop of 817 meters and a length of 3080 meters. With lower starting gates,will be used for the Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom races. The Roc De Fer contains an average gradient of 30 percent, and a maximum inclination of 60 %.
"In general, the pistes will be brilliant for these finals. It will be a great playground for everyone. As for my best events, I think the GS will be a good one. 2 relatively easy gates to start, then a small wall and a big right. More undulating terrain before the big final wall, long but not too steep. It could be similar to Sölden. The slalom also takes place on this wall, quite nice really", explained Alexis Pinturault.
"It’s quite nice. The first 5 gates before the tunnel are undulating, it starts quite chilled out but you quickly get to the technical part! After that its non-stop till the end, it doesn’t ease off. It’s a technical piste which could be complicated depending on the snow conditions", said Marion Rolland.

Access: The lower part of the course is accessible using 2 chairlifts: Plan de l’Homme and Roc de Fer and the start of the downhill by the Olympic Express. Under the Super G start, a 52 m tunnel allows tourists and spectators safe passage.

Few Words a Ski Film by Candide Thovex & Quiksilver

The movie takes the viewer into the life of Candide Thovex.
This film gives us an insight into the legend behind the goggles and takes us to the most beautiful mountains on the planet. 
Following the highs and lows of one of the world's most renowned freestyle/freeride skiers, the journey begins during Candide's childhood in La Clusaz / Balme and through his medal winning competition runs.
Life threatening injuries, world titles plus his new, unseen adventures this film will leave the audience demanding more! Not only a focus on pure action, awesome imagery and breathtaking landscapes, submerge us in Candide's fascinating wold.

The Swatch Freeride World Tour 2015 Alaska Stop in Haines is Confirmed for Today

After a few days "trapped" together in the small town with no possibilities of going very far the Swatch Freeride World Tour 2015 Alaska stop in Haines is confirmed for today March 17th 2015 with first start at 10:00 am (7:00 pm CET).
The riders have been on hold since Saturday waiting for a snow storm to settle so that the face could be secured. The venue has now been secured by the Seaba Heli and FWT guides and everything is ready. In order to not miss the weather window, a decision has been made to go ahead and hold the contest today.
Drew Tabke (USA) tells how everyone has been keeping themselves entertained on the down days. "Some groups have been ski touring at Haines Pass, 50 miles from town and just across the Canadian border. Some have been snowmobile skiing. A few groups have been lucky enough to go heli skiing. Still others took scenic flights in a small airplane over the surrounding peaks and glaciers. In town, we play frisbee golf, basketball, cards... And the people and businesses in town have been extremely warm and welcoming".
Felix Wiemers (GER) came to Haines prepared for the wait: "We knew before we came to Haines that it could be a longer waiting period - weather is changing a lot up here. Luckily, we got this big storm right after our arrival so that we have powder up in the mountains and will have good conditions for the comp", he says. He is among the fortunate ones who got to jump on a heli yesterday and he is ready to bring it on. "We had one day in the heli yesterday to check the conditions - it will be a great show!".
One of the more cozy initiatives came from Shannan Yates (USA). While in the final stretch trying to defend her World Champion title, the dynamic snowboarder prepared an aurorean bonfire for everybody to enjoy while waiting to see if they could catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
"Alaska is a big and wild, so a huge fire next to the water in the elements, snow and sparks flying seemed fitting! It was a great time!" Shannan tells, admitting that it is not always super exciting waiting around. "Waiting for comp day can be dull at times, but I like to keep busy".

Watch it LIVE on

Epic TV: You & The Fools, Ep. 3. Jochen Mesle, Max Kroneck, and Simon Wohlgenannt Shred Montafon

For episode 3 It´s time to leave the busy slopes and lift-lines behind to search for untouched skiing terrain in more isolated parts of the mountains so The Fools strap on their skins and go touring in the backcountry of Silvretta Montafon. Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck meet local freerider Simon Wohlgenannt, who shows them his favorite zones and guides the crew into stunning bowls with lots of riding options. Laid-back shredding and sunburns are guaranteed!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Colorado Ski Country USA Reports Strong Mid-Season Skier Visitation

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today that its 21 member resorts reported an increase in skier visitation in January and February. Skier visits at CSCUSA resorts were up by 3.7 percent during the second period of the 2014/15 season, defined as January 1, 2015 through February 28, 2015, compared to the same period of the prior year.
"At the start of the season we set a strong pace in visitation, and that pace continued through the second period, exceeding expectations given some bouts of unseasonable weather in January", explained Melanie Mills, president and CEO, Colorado Ski Country USA. "The steady pace of skier visits speaks volumes to Colorado’s reputation for having consistent, reliable snow conditions and being the top ski destination".
Second period visitation pushed the industry slightly ahead in season-to-date skier visit totals compared to the same point in time last year. For the 2014/15 season to date, defined as opening day through February 28, 2015, visitation at CSCUSA resorts was up by 1.9 percent compared to the same time last season, which was the best season on record. "One of the benefits of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado is taking advantage of beautiful sunshine, which visitors saw a lot of in January, until snowy, wintery weather returned in February. In February, consistent snowstorms swept across the state raising spirits and snowpack", continued Mills.
With great spring skiing conditions all around the state, resorts are welcoming spring break visitors and guests from all over the world. "Looking ahead we’re cautiously optimistic; especially since we still have a lot of ski season left. March and April are typically very snowy months in Colorado and we’d be thrilled to see this pace continue·, said Mills.
CSCUSA resorts invite guests to take advantage of spring skiing conditions, entertaining events and late season deals. While spring is a popular time for CSCUSA resorts. CSCUSA reminds people to ski and ride safely. Visitors should familiarize themselves with the nationally recognized Your Responsibility Code and conduct themselves accordingly. Visit for helpful tips and slope safety best practices.
Final season visitation numbers will be announced at CSCUSA’s 52nd Annual Meeting in June. Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) is the not-for-profit trade association representing 21 Colorado ski & snowboard resorts. CSCUSA is the global voice of the Colorado ski industry. The Association’s primary functions are concentrated in marketing, public policy and public relations.

Epic TV: You & The Fools, Ep. 2. Backcountry Love In Austria With The Fools And Friends

It´s time to head back to Austria's Silvretta Montafon for another adventure with the Fools. Unfortunately most of the boys are traveling the world skiing instead of enjoying great conditions in the Alps so the crew has added two additional members. The first is Thomas Kigle who has the honor of being the first snowboarder on the set (ie: in the mountains) of an El Flamingo video. He even brought some roses to show his gratitude for this memorable moment. The second rider is none other than Max Kroneck, an old friend who shreds like crazy! Jochen Mesle joins them because he never misses a powder day near home. Good friends, insane snow, video cameras rolling, what else could you ask for?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Henrik Kristoffersen Takes Victory in Kranjska Gora Slalom

After skiing a flawless second run on the Podkoren slope, Henrik Kristoffersen finished the "regular", pre Finals, slalom season the same way he started it in Levi – with a victory.
After sitting in third place after the first run, the young Norwegian laid a flawless second run and with a total time of 1 minute, 41.26 seconds grasped his 10th career podium. In second place, with a time 0.24 seconds slower than Kristoffersen’s, Giuliano Razzoli managed to hold on tight to his second place position from the first run and earned his podium position since his second place in Alta Badia in 2011.
Rounding up the podium today in Kranjska Gora was Swede Mattias Hargin, by finishing 0.86 seconds behind; he was the only skier beside Razzoli to come within a second of the winning time.
Kristoffersen is no stranger to the Kranjska Gora podium, having finished third in both the slalom and giant slalom last year, but this Sunday he was able to step it up even more.
"That was really good. Whoa! I just felt like I really hit the line. It was a little bit bumpy but the setup was working perfectly today. The skis were awesome and, yeah, a really good race", Kristoffersen said. "Kranjska Gora is a nice hill. I think it looks kind of easy on TV because the speed is so high, but it’s not that easy. Second run was a little rough but I tried to push it the whole way. I was on the limit 10 gates from the finish, but that’s slalom at the moment. You’ve got to push it".
Giuliano Razzoli has had a few rough seasons, bouncing up and down the standings and having a hard time finding some consistency but today things finally aligned for him.
"It has been a while for me since I climbed on the podium, but today I feel as if I deserved it", a very emotional Razzoli said. "I started behind this year and slowly made my way back. This result came on one of the most beautiful slopes, one I have always loved. Today I gave it my best shot, but the young one was too strong. I didn’t want to risk too much but I still think I did a great race. It was really close today and this second place is like a victory for me".
In third place, Hargin added another great result to what has so far been his best season.
"I’m really happy with the season", said Hargin. "The skiing is going really easy. I can push really hard. … I took a step forward this year with the win. Now I’m finishing more around the podium. Before, I was six, seven, eight. It’s a big step forward and I’ll try to take an even bigger step next season".
Hargin was leading after the first run but one small mistake too many in the second one cost him a possible second career victory.
"Today, first run was really good, second run not that good. But I’m really happy with the third place. … With the soft course, you have to be really precise with the ruts. It was tricky to really ski fast", he commented.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. Welcome to Haines, Alaska!

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.

All the riders and the last part of the crew have now arrived in Haines. For some, it has been a long trip due to a big snow storm putting traffic on hold in some places.
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!".

Mikaela Shiffrin Wins World Cup Slalom in Åre

USA's Mikaela Shiffrin extended her lead from the first run to claim her third consecutive slalom win of the season on Saturday.
The slalom world champion, who turned 20 on Friday, skied flawlessly on the course set by her coach in the first leg and clocked the fastest time in the second run as well after an impressive bottom section. She finished in a combined time of 1:44.56 and was trailed by Slovakia's Veronika Velez Zuzulova (+1.41) who was third after the first run. Rounding out the podium was Czech Republic's Sarka Strachova (+2.15).
Shiffrin almost lost half of her lead in the top part of the course but she made it all back up and increased it significantly on the bottom to finally comfortably earn her 14th career World Cup victory.
"It felt like my second run was good but sometimes I can hear the announcers when I'm skiing and I thought I was behind", explained Shiffrin right after the race. "So I told myself go faster, go faster (...) Sometimes my nerves are worse when I have a big lead, because I feel like something has to go wrong. There was a little bit of adrenaline in my legs and I think that helped me today".
With the win, Shiffrin gets closer to her big goal of retaining the crystal globe in slalom, a trophy she won in each of the previous two seasons. She could become the first woman to win the world title as well as the World Cup title in the slalom in the same season twice. Her only remaining challenger in the discipline, Frida Hansdotter, one of the home crowd's favourites, had to be content with 6th place (+2.54) and will have to overcome a 90 point disadvantage in the final race at the World Cup finals next week to claim the title.This means the 29-year-old Swede has no other option but to win the final slalom race and implies that Shiffrin doesn't finish better than 21st place.
Veronika Velez Zuzulova confirmed her fine form after a difficult start to the season. Today's result was her second successive runner-up spot as she was already second in Maribor three weeks ago.
"I have never made two podiums in a row like this", commented Velez Zuzulova. "It was always with some breaks in-between. For sure I am very happy because I had a really tough start to the season with knee problems. The confidence is coming back and I can enjoy every race now".
Sarka Strachova, who earned bronze at the World Championships, landed her third podium this campaign."Confidence is back for me as well", she said. "I am not really nervous any more before the races and I am having a lot of fun".

Alexis Pinturault Wins Giant Slalom in Kranjska Gora. Marcel Hirscher Takes the World Cup GS Title.

Alexis Pinturault was the man to beat in Saturday’s Pokal Vitranc giant slalom race. The French, collected three giant slalom podiums at the Slovenian venue before finally clenching his first victory. After leading in the first run, Pinturault skied a strong second one and with a time of 2 minutes 19.78 won his first giant slalom race since 2013. By finishing in second place, 0.68 seconds behind Pinturault, Marcel Hirscher earned 80 points and locked down the season’s giant slalom title. After sitting in fourth place after the first run, Pinturault’s teammate Thomas Fanara climbed up one position and with a time 0.91 seconds behind the fastest time, earned his second podium of the season.
"It’s a special day for me because it’s my first GS victory after many years. This year, it was really tough to beat Marcel and I finally did it. I’m really happy", Pinturault said.
Pinturault was leading after the first run and knew that coming down the Podkoren as the last racer in the second one, he could easily lose valuable time if he lets the marks on the slope impact his skiing.
"It’s much more difficult in the second run because it’s much more bumpy as a result of the racers so you have to be really smooth on the bumps. Some guys can ski really, really fast in these conditions and you have to be careful. In the end and you never really know how you did until you are through the finish line", he said.
Hirscher won the giant slalom title in 2012 and has been the only skier to interrupt Ted Ligety’s supremacy in the discipline.
"This is the first time since the change in the ski rules that I’ve caught the globe in GS", Hirscher said. "For me, it was two years with a lot of thinking and disappointment against Ted. I was 2.7 seconds behind Ted in the first race with the longer skis. We realized that we are so far away from Ted and that was the beginning of a long way and a lot of work, a lot of test and some different setup things. Many people worked really hard for this success".
With one globe under his belt, Hirscher’s job is far from done, as his battle with Kjetil Jansrud for the Overall is still open.
"It’s not possible to win the Overall globe if you’re skiing bad in one discipline — you have to have two really good disciplines. If I had to choose, I would say I prefer retaining the big globe compared to winning back the giant slalom one, definitely. But it is also really nice to have the GS globe. It gives me extra power for the next races so I hope the two can go hand in hand", Hirscher explained.
It has been exactly a year and one day since France saw two of their athletes together on the podium, as at last year’s Finals in Lenzerheide Pinturault and another Thomas, Mermillod Blondin finished first and second in the super-G.
"It’s a very good day for the French ski team today. It’s a special feeling to share the podium with Alexis. It’s always better to not be the only French on the podium. I’m really glad to be with these two amazing champions, Marcel and Alexis", an extremely happy Fanara said.
Fanara seems to perform at his best on challenging, technical courses and Kranjska Gora fits that description perfectly. On top of that, it has a special meaning in Fanara’s career.
"I’m very glad to be on the podium today because I started my World Cup career here and I thought one day I would be on the podium. This is the day", Fanara explained. "I think my ski technique is better on this slope and this snow condition. And we know, with our skis, Fischer, the best condition is when it is hard and a little bit icy. When the snow is salted with spring temperature, its more difficult for the Fischer team. When the snow is like winter, we have a chance".

Friday, March 13, 2015

Anna Fenninger Wins Giant Slalom in Åre

Anna Fenninger continued her fine run of form by winning her fifth world cup race of the season, the third in giant slalom. In the lead after the first leg, the giant slalom world champion put in a solid second run under the floodlights to maintain the advantage. She clocked a combined time of 2:24.20 to edge out Nadia Fanchini at the top of the timesheets. The Italian finished 0.71 seconds behind, while Eva-Maria Brem rounded out the podium, 1.07 seconds back.
"I am living a dream", Fenninger said at the press conference. "From the very beginning of the season with a great victory in Sölden until now, it just has been amazing. I am very happy I can show my best skiing here again".
Fenninger already won both giant slalom races in Åre in March 2014 and becomes the first woman to win at least three in the Swedish resort.
"I love Åre", Fenninger added. "Earning another victory here is really cool. The top part of the course is always tough. I usually struggle to find the right tempo up there. I had this problem last year as well".
In the tense battle for the overall title, the 25-year-old overtook Tina Maze, who didn't manage to find her groove and had to be content with 20th place, scoring only 11 points. Fenninger walked away with a 45 point lead before Saturday's slalom.
"I feel confident in my skiing now. But for the big globe I have to wait for Tina to make mistakes I think. Because she is so strong and she can win in slalom also and I am not going to race tomorrow. I try to save my energy in order to maybe win other races this season and put some pressure on Tina. I think it will be tight until the end and I don't know if I can make it or not", concluded Fenninger.
Nadia Fanchini, who was fifth after the first run, raced to her first podium ever in giant slalom.
"The race went really well", explained Fanchini. "I knew it wasn’t impossible to make it to the top-3 because I was close to the best racers in the first run. I gave it my all and I am so glad it worked out".
The 28-year-old Italian's last World Cup podium dated back to Haus im Ennstal (AUT) in January 2010. Fanchini's career has been jeopardized by multiple knee injuries.
"I am really happy to be back on the podium after the severe knee injury I sustained in 2010", she added. "It took me almost two years to recover from this ACL injury".
With her third podium of the campaign, Eva-Maria Brem keeps a chance to claim the giant slalom title, as she is 86 points behind Fenninger with one giant slalom race remaining.
"I have had a great start to the season, but then things didn't really go the way I wanted", said Brem. "I worked and worked and to be back on the podium today feels good. To have the chance to fight for this globe until the very end is nice. You never know what can happen. I am looking forward to the finals".

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Countdown to the 2015 Swatch Freeride World Tour 2015 By The North Face in Haines, Alaska

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 around Haines, 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.
"The community is very excited to welcome the Freeride World Tour to Haines", says Leslie Ross (USA), Haines Tourism Director. "The Freeride World Tour features the best skiers and snowboarders in the world and this will be a historic occasion for the town and surrounding region. We can’t wait to introduce them to our world class skiing and riding and our Alaskan hospitality".
This contest not only provides the athletes with a chance to ride the amazing terrain around Haines, which many athletes have already qualified as one of the highlights of the season. It also gives one more result to base the qualification for the Xtreme Verbier on.
The historic event in Haines will be broadcast live just as the other FWT stops on It has been very important to the FWT organizers to provide fans with the opportunity to follow the action real-time, although it is both costly and demanding to set up for live coverage in this extreme and remote location. As always, weather plays an important role and since it can be particularly tricky on this latitude, a nine-day ‘weather window' has been assigned with the expected competition date being March 14. Staying up to date on any changes in schedule has never been easier though, with a brand new FWT app with push notifications now being available in the different app stores.
As for the snow conditions it looks promising. Freeride World Tour Americas Manager Tom Winter (USA) reports that: "According to the Haines Avalanche Information Center, we are returning to an onshore flow and snow and colder weather is expected into next week. This will help prime the venue for the athletes and I can’t wait to see them turned loose in Alaska".

FWT15 - Haines, Alaska Teaser par FreerideWorldTourTV

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Freeride World Tour Increase Online Followers

The Freeride World Tour has seen spectacular growth in its online reach compared to last season. The 100,000+ Facebook fans mark was reached already in January and it keeps growing continuously and organically with a steady 1.5 mio people reached on Facebook. Website traffic is also up, reaching a 20% growth year over year. These numbers provide a strong indicatation that the new user-adapted online strategy, along with the increase in resources allocated, seem to be paying off. Over a period from October till today there has been a 30% increase in new visitors to the website and it has been visited more than 500,000 times. This is 20% more visits than in the same period last year. With regard to content, there is a 20% increase in pages viewed in the same period last year. On the video side, counting all platforms together (FB, DM, YT, Live, etc) there has been more than 4'340'000 views between January and February alone.
While these numbers indicate a growing interest and fan base in general, they also show that the new online strategy seems to fit the users' demand with more multimedia content and a focus on the riders.  "We have analyzed the statistics and the behavior of our fans on the social media platforms to make some changes in the strategy", says FWT Digital Media Manager, Gary Eisinger. "More concretely, this means that we make more regular news posts, and we use photo and shorter videos a lot as this is what our online users seem to want".
One major change since last year has been the implementation of a new, more user-friendly and responsive (available from any screen) website with more content and regular news updates both about the Freeride World Tour and its riders, but also concerning the two recruiting tours, the Freeride World Qualifier and the Freeride Junior Tour. Combined with social media posts using professional photos and videos this global online strategy has proven to generate more traffic and interaction. The videos in particular are very popular and are also being shared on other online platforms which of course increases the reach. As an example, more than 640.000 people watched the online videos during the week of the Vallnord, Andorra FWT event. Finally, the Instagram account is also taking off and just received 106,000 likes in one week with more than 700 comments.
As an extra service to fans, a new FWT App can now be downloaded from both the Apple store and the Android Market. The idea is to have a direct way to stay updated on the latest news and keep rankings, rider information and photos handy any time. One can also use the application to follow the FWT live stream of competitions straight from one's mobile device. The greatest advantage of the application is that one can get push notifications on news and concerning the live stream and any changes in schedule. Everything is being done with the user in mind, to make it easy to follow the action - no matter how far away - and share the experience with friends, colleagues or family.
FWT General Manager, Nicolas Hale-Woods is pleased with the development, which is also a result of putting in more resources: "There is a big professional production team working behind the scenes to capture all the action and we always have an abundance of top quality live and still images to share. It is important to us be able to both satisfy the online community and to service the traditional media, who tend to appreciate our longer shows and written content", he says, concluding: "It's great to see that it all pays off as it gives more exposure - not only to the Tour and its partners - but also to the riders".

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.