Good Start to the Freeride World Tour 2014

Stop 1 and 2 of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face 2014 are done and dusted! The first stop in Revelstoke had to be postponed to March 2014, making Chamonix the first FWT stop for the women on 25th January. I was more than ready to compete by this stage, really hungry to finally get the competitive season started. At inspection I could see that there was a metre less snow in the competition venue compared to last year, making the airs significantly bigger. Additionally, you could see that the snow was very wind affected. That’s competition for you! We often have to deal with challenging snow conditions, quite different to filming. I opted for an easy line and aimed to ski it was fast as possible. I also noticed that the judges were rewarding powerful skiing at the men’s stop in Courmayeur. With a fairly simple line skied well, I came third in a stacked field of ripping female skiers. Here’s my run:


FWT14 – Run of Lorraine Huber – Chamonix Mont… von FreerideWorldTourTV

I was happy with my run run, which was fluid, and for reaching the podium with my first contest of the season. One good result in the bag – nothing better than to take pressure off!

Pic: Freeride World Tour 2014 Chamonix, by D. Daher

Pic: Freeride World Tour 2014 Chamonix, by D. Daher

Pic: Freeride World Tour 2014 Chamonix, by J. Bernard

Pic: Freeride World Tour 2014 Chamonix, by J. Bernard

Soon after, after a detour to Münich for a presentation of our film ‘Lorraine. The Movie’ at ISPO, we arrived in Fieberbrunn for the next FWT stop. Snow conditions were very thin, but the venue was deemed doable. That was before two days of Föhn set it: warm wind from the south of up to 100 km/hr, cleaning out the Wildseeloder face entirely and creating a lot of wind slabs just waiting to be set off by a skier. The organisers has to cancel Fieberbrunn, painful as it was. Within a few hours, it had been decided to relocate the entire tour and production team to Kappl, Tirol, only an hour away from home. The snow here was good enough for us to compete on, and Kappl offered us riders a great venue starting on the ‘Quellspitze‘ at 2700m.

fwt14_thaller-3950_hdtv_720FWT14_Kappl_StephaneDelecluse

In Kappl we couldn’t inspect before the competition day due to bad weather preventing us from seeing the face. The women were first up to start so we were up on top of the mountain by 7.15am to pick our lines. Again I opted to ski something simple I knew I would be able to find without having to slow down. I skied fast and came in third, again! A fantastic start to the season! I felt very comfortable competing and enjoyed it a lot, not being as nervous as I have in the past. I have two weeks at home now to recharge the batteries and get some serious ski mileage in before heading on 25th February to California, USA, for the next FWT stop. Keep you posted!

Pic: FWT2014 in Kappl, by T. Haller

Pic: FWT2014 in Kappl, by T. Haller

Freeride World Tour Chamonix: 4th place

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.

Checking my line ©NISSAN FREERIDE DE CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC 2010 / T. REPO

©NISSAN FREERIDE DE CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC 2010 / D. DAHER

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.

“Pentes de l’Hôtel” face at the Brévent ski area