After an amazing day of fresh powder and fun cliff drops last Friday with my mates in St. Anton, I received a call saying I have a starting place at the Freeride World Tour in Chamonix. This is an amazing chance for me and exactly what I want: to compete alongside some of the best female big mountain skiers in the Freeride World Tour. Luckily, Saturday was inspection day so I had enough time to drive to the French mountaineering and skiing capital.
On Sunday I was the very last person to start which gave me a chance to watch the first male skiers and snowboarders on the day of the event. It had snowed 30 to 50 cm 2 days before, but before the snow fall the south facing aspects were known to have been very icy. The result was that the fresh snow was sliding off the hard old layer. Forerunner Martin Winkler skied from the top of start 2, the starting choice of the majority of the competitors, and triggered a soft slab avalanche coming into a steep flank. Only a sheet of ice was left. Although I knew snow conditions were variable and challenging, and after much debating with fellow competitor Jess McMillan who ranked 3rd in the FWT 2009, I decided to pull through with the original line I chose from starting gate 2. I skied my line fairly fluently considering the conditions. To be honest I was happy to have stayed on my feet and land the 2 cliffs I had planned. New Zealand’s Janina Kuzma and I had a very similar run but finally the judges decided the place Janina 3rd since she skied over more exposure than I did. Fellow Austrian skier Eva Walkner skied a fast line placing her in 2nd position, and the winner of the day in the end was Jess McMillan! Her decision to not shred the gnar, but shred the pow, payed off with an original line over some nice airs from starting gate 1. Overall the level of girls skiing was very strong.
The competition in the male field was intense. In the end Candide Thovex, international freestyle legend, persuaded the judges with a super fast and fun line also from starting gate 1. Swedish Kaj Zackrisson is one of the veterans on the tour, and a Chamonix local since 10 years. The strong skier took second with an extremely powerful and consistent run, taking clean and big air. American rising star and newcomer Tim Dutton impressed the judges as he chose an original line down the face; creative, exposed and finding the good snow. My mate Stefan Häusl had the run of his life and came in 6th after some huge aggressive airs. The most consistent run among the snowboarders was Austrian Mitch Toelderer’s line, with an interesting line interpretation in the middle, steep section of the course, and taking two solid airs towards the end. Austria is looking pretty strong for this year’s Freeride World Tour!
Next stop for me are some Freeride World Qualifiers in Flaine, France and Engadin, Switzerland and then the Freeride World Tour in Fieberbrunn which is going to be amazing! Fieberbrunn has finally received some fresh snow and conditions there are good.