Runner-up Freeride World Tour Champion 2014

Two days have passed since I competed in my most important event of the season last Saturday, the Verbier Xtreme, the finals of the Freeride World Tour. For the first time since I started competing on the FWT in 2010, I was skiing for the overall FWT Championship title after a very consistent season of three back-to-back podiums. Mentally I was feeling strong and ready to give it my all, deciding against skiing a safety line. I knew I had to place at least 2nd in order to improve my overall ranking made up of a 1st and two 3rd places.

The "Mini Bec", the Verbier Xtreme women's venue

The “Little Bec”, the Verbier Xtreme women’s venue

Unfortunately, I fell ill with acute bronchitis right before Verbier, forcing me to stay off skis for the entire week leading up to the big day, but by Saturday I felt strong enough to compete. A final inspection on Friday showed the Little Bec much changed since the snowfall and I decided my line was good to go.

To our dismay, the mountain guides had dug a snow pit right in the landing of the top standard air the women like to take on the looker’s right side of the face. We were assured that the hole would be filled up however and wouldn’t pose a problem for the competitors.

I took the hike of 60 minutes nice and easy, arriving at the start in time to take a look at the top of my line. I really didn’t like the look of the landing of my first air, the dug snow pit had created a large flat, compressed area of snow. I decided I needed to jump over it, but not too far either in order to still reach my second feature I had planned.

Then I was ready to start, and I was pumped to ski my line. Finally, after all the waiting, it was time! I line up my first air, but too slowly, landing right in the middle of the snow pit. Immediately after landing I get a huge compression, back slap and spin out of control. Three seconds into my line at the most important event of the season and I loose everything! Immediately I knew the chance at the overall title was lost, from one second to the next. It was such a crushing feeling to have such a stupid crash only three seconds into my run.

Then I decided I may as well continue skiing my line, it’s not every day you get to ski the Bec. That was hard to do since I was disheartened and a bit disoriented, but I did enjoy some good turns on the way down to my last exit drop. Here I made the second mistake of the day, not lining up the direction of my take-off correctly, landing across the fall line, which proved fatal in the punchy and wind-affected snow in the landing. I crashed badly and narrowly missed some rocks lower down in the landing.

Taking my last exit air on the Mini Bec

Taking my last exit air on the Little Bec, Photo: FWT Verbier Xtreme 2014, D. Carlier

Here’s the video of my run:


FWT14 – Run of Bib #2 Lorraine Huber AUT… von FreerideWorldTourTV

Congratulations to the Arlberg’s Nadine Wallner, who, amazingly, won her second FWT championship title in a row, and to Norway’s Pia Nic Gundersen, who executed a beautiful and enormous air with total confidence and style, winning the Verbier Xtreme 2014.

Freeride World Tour 2014 Overall Ski Women's Podium

Freeride World Tour 2014 Overall Ski Women’s Podium

Despite the disappointment of not being able to ski my line on the Bec as I had planned, I am very happy with my skiing this past season. I feel like I’ve made huge progress this year both technically and mentally, managing my first win on the FWT in Snowbird. Despite the challenging conditions, I was also able to thoroughly enjoy the competitions this year and had some great days skiing with fellow competitors.

I want to thank my family, my friends, my sponsors Lech Zürs, Kästle Skis, Bergans of Norway, Scott Sports, Snowlife Gloves, Pieps and Sportservice Vorarlberg, and all the people supporting me online who I don’t even know personally. You created an amazing pillar of energy for me which already made me feel like a world champion. I would have loved to win the title just for you guys who all believed in me.

I’m proud of the runner-up Freeride World Tour title, but it has left me hungry for more and I’m already looking forward to charging hard on the tour next year. I’ll be back!

Last chance at Röldal Freeride Challenge

After a  Freeride World Tour season of ups and downs and multiple crashes, I headed to the Röldal Freeride Challenge in Norway at the end of my season in hope of gaining more points to qualify for the Freeride World Tour 2013. I had a second and fourth place at two 4-Star FWQ events, and knew that I needed at least a second place to qualify for the tour through the FWQ ranking system, where the top three girls earn themselves a spot on the FWT13. After many weather and snow condition complications, typical for Röldal, the final day of competition was held on a south facing face close to the Röldal ski resort. Conditions were tricky due big cracks in the snowpack and avalanche debris in many of the run-outs (the areas under the landings of cliffs), but the snow was softening up us we made our ascent of 60 minutes to the start.

Finals venue on Saudasvingen for the Röldal Freeride Challenge 2012

I decided that conditions weren’t on for dropping cliffs in the steeper, more impressive lookers right of the venue, but those Norwegian girls sure showed me otherwise! Pia Nic Gunderson (1st place) skied a hard and fast line in the steepest area of the venue, stomping a scary cliff above a no-fall zone and holding it together through horrible avalanche debris in her run out. Ex-racer Tone Jersin Ansnes (2nd place) also skied fast in the steep and technical part of the face, and Anne May Slinning (3rd place) chose a difficult line with a big drop despite her broken arm. Nadine Wallner from the Arlberg, Austria, also had a great run showing super solid skiing, but unfortunately she crashed on her last cliff and lost a ski. Too bad! Anyway, she has still made it to the Freeride World Tour next year after a successful FWQ season so all is good.

f.l.r.t. Lorraine Huber, Pia Nic Gundersen, Tone Jersin Ansnes, Kristina Slinning, Matilda Rapaport

I chose an easy line with 6 small jumps on the lookers left of the venue, it was enough to place fourth, with only 0,4 points separating me from Anne May Slinning. I was happy at least because I skied the line I had planned and found all my features, but as soon as I was in the finish area I realised I had made a mistake by choosing to ski lookers left. In the end this means I’m not qualified for the Freeride World Tour 2013, but I’m not giving up! I will be competing next year in one form or the other, more news on that later.

As for the male skiers, the conditions sure were tricky to air anything bigger. Out of the 20 skiers that were able to start, 9 crashed mostly due to not being able to hold their speed after their landings. Sadly, there was an accident when a competitor landed in a big crack in the snow pack, and immediately after that a speed rider (small paraglider with skis) had an accident in the face, ultimately forcing the organisers to cancel the competition. There are hence no results for the men ski category.

Conditions really weren't on for anything bigger at the Röldal Freeride Challenge 2012. Here you can see a competitor receiving medical attention after a crash which crushed his ankle.

2nd Place Big Mountain Hochfügen

I finally have some good news to blog about regarding comps: I came second at the 4-star Freeride World Qualifier Big Mountain Hochfügen last weekend! I came to Hochfügen mainly for training purposes of being able to compete in a low-pressure environment (compared to the Freeride World Tour events) and get over my nervousness at the start. The contest itself is very professionally run and amazing to be part of. The contest face “Ostwand” is awesome with lots of different options and the snow conditions were great with plenty of fresh powder and good snow coverage. The judges told me that the high level of the female skiers surprised them and that it wasn’t much lower than at the FWT events. Yay girls! On another positive note, the female prize money was only EUR 100 to 200 less than the men’s, usually it’s only half the amount.

BM Hochfuegen Women's Podium

The ski women from Big Mountain Hochfügen: 3rd Matilda Rapaport, 1st Pia Nic Gundersen and 2nd Lorraine Huber (f.l.t.r)

I chose a line which I knew I could ski easily, that was also a reason I wasn’t really nervous at the start. And further more I was really looking forward to skiing that line! I drew an early start number (30) and it is really so much better to be able to start earlier in the day as opposed to having to wait for the entire men’s field to race before the women can start – that’s just so nerve racking for me still! This good result gives me confidence for the next FWT event in Röldal, Norway on 25 February. Stay tuned!