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ContestHappening 05 2017/18 | 2x FWT Kicking Horse, FWQ Trouble

Tour start and qualifiers worthy of discussion

by Tobias Huber 02/13/2018
A week ago, two FWT stops took place in Kicking Horse (CA). At some qualifiers there were a few organizational uncertainties and disappointed potential participants over the weekend. Here is a short summary of the FWT and more details about the qualifiers in Hochfügen, at Hochfelln and the FWQ and FJT events in Alpbach.

FWT Recap

Last week, both the planned Kicking Horse Tour stop and the postponed Hakuba contest were held two days in a row. With less than ideal visibility conditions for some of the starters on both days (snowboard men on the first, snowboard women on the second), the first important FWT points of the season were at stake.

On the rather shorter faces, it was not easy for the participants to stand out from the crowd due to a lack of opportunities. This became clear in both of the men's ski competitions, as the top placings were actually interchangeable depending on the viewer's taste and the placings could only be justified by subtleties and minor uncertainties. Nevertheless, Logan Pehota stood out with the winning line and the highest drop. Markus Eder also impressed - after two seasons off, he is putting his filming experience to good use and has the potential to continue presenting the finesse of Sam Anthamatten's runs on the tour.

In the women's ski category, both Eva Walkner and Arianna Tricomi had a very successful start to the new season: with a first and second place for Tricomi and a first and third place for Walkner, they dominated the women's ski category. While Walkner shows off her experience, Tricomi impressively demonstrates how to produce solid, fun-looking runs with speed, determination and ski control. After changing her ski sponsor, she now skis the way she wants to ski and it clearly shows.

The standard in the men's snowboarding is still somewhat disappointing this season, as safety runs are enough for the podium. Unfortunately, even Gigi Rüf is not helping to push the field, as he still has to get his interesting runs down safely. We can hope to have a 100% fit Sammy Luebke back soon!

While the women's snowboard contest on the second day on the contest slope, which had degenerated into a mogul slope in the flat light, did not allow a run without a fall, they showed some very strong performances the day before. Above all, Manuela Mandl's (AT) very solid run, whose drop at the beginning was in no way inferior to the performances of the snowboard men. Also interesting this season is the participation of Wakana Hama (JPN), who is very confident on the snowboard and even managed about a third of the face switch on the first day. Unfortunately, she crashed during her run, as she did on the second day, but in this case it was still enough for the win.

Here is the replay and the winning runs. The tour now has a two-week break until everyone meets up again in Andorra for the next tour stop from March 1-7.

Not everything went smoothly at the FWQs

The failure to take advantage of a previously announced weather window disappointed some riders at the FWQs in Bavaria and Tyrol last weekend. As the riders were supposed to be on site during the specified time window in order to hold a contest in suitable conditions and incur a lot of time and costs to do so, they would have liked the organizers of the contests on Hochfelln and in Hochfügen to take a different approach and at least try to make use of the specified time window.


The 1* FWQ contest was initially postponed by a week from 3 February to 11 February due to a poor weather forecast. Although similarly bad weather was forecast for the alternative date, the organizers tried to hold the contest on Saturday, but this was not possible due to fog and poor visibility. On the following day, the contest was not even scheduled, although the weather forecast was at least no worse than for Saturday. As luck would have it, the sun was shining on Sunday and some riders were very annoyed that although they had to plan for Sunday in the form of accommodation, the organizers did not even consider holding the contest within the announced weather window. It was also incomprehensible to some why the contest was still scheduled in a similarly bad weather forecast as the previous week and why the tedious organization process (travel/accommodation) for the participants was set in motion, but no attempt was made on the second day.


The men's snowboard competition at Big Mountain Hochfügen (Results, Winning Runs), one of the few 4* FWQs in the area and relatively important for the overall standings, had a similar fate. The men's snowboard competition had to be canceled due to poor visibility. Although a three-day weather window had been scheduled, the organizers did not consider rescheduling the category for the next day or two. The weather forecast for the next day was at least uncertain. If they had at least tried the following Sunday, they would have started in perfect sunshine, just like on Hochfelln. The cancellation was justified by the organizers with the inclusion of several factors (weather forecast, field that had already started to a certain extent, FWT/FWQ rules).

Whether the 1* contest takes place on Hochfelln or not does not contribute to qualification for the World Tour, at least not directly. However, it is still very unfortunate for the mostly unsponsored participants if they spend a lot of time and above all money (travel, accommodation, lift ticket, not exactly low participation fees) and then don't even make use of the scheduled time slot. This can certainly reduce interest in contest freeriding among the next generation. Therefore, the voices from the riders' camp are easy to understand when they urge to either cancel the contest in advance and if not, then at least take advantage of the weather window.

At the 4* FWQ in Hochfügen, "big" names were already announced in advance as wildcard participants, mainly in the men's skiing. It's no secret that the men's ski competition is generally followed with the most interest. But it's the up-and-coming talent in the men's snowboarding competition in particular that has a tough time: while the accessibility to the FWT is severely limited anyway with only one promotion spot per region and at the same time snowboarding "legends" are always being replaced via wildcards, some may ask themselves whether it's still worth all the effort. On the one hand, these wildcards are understandably an attempt to increase the appeal to the general public, but on the other hand, the FWQ snowboarding youngsters are being put under a lot of pressure with such decisions. Because even without knowing the real reasons for not considering a repetition, it must have felt to the snowboard men as if everything was already interesting after the men's ski contest and it was no longer worth the effort for them the next day. The snowboard pro, who was invited with a wildcard, was able to start before the competition was canceled and has already distributed the content in the form of a POV video with the greatest possible reach via social media. The rest of the field would simply have been happy to race for their valuable points for the non-refundable entry fee. According to unverified sources, the riders offered to split the prize money and put it towards the organization of the catch-up event the next day, which was rejected by the organizing committee.

Another FWQ 1* and FJT in the Alpbachtal

After the Skijuwel Alpbach celebrated its debut at the FWQs last year, the contest scene once again looked to the Tyrolean lowlands last Sunday to host an FWQ and an FJT stop. Although the face presented itself from its difficult side in changeable weather conditions, 74 participants from ten nations ventured up to the 2127m high summit of the "Wiedersberger Horn" - only to be able to look back on an imaginative but safe line 300 vertical meters later. New at this year's edition of the contest in Alpbach were some additional artificial takeoffs and a kicker built especially for the qualifier in the face.

Philipp Koller emerged as the winner of the men's ski contest: "I'm super happy with my run. The takeoffs were extremely cool and I took full risks. That paid off in the end." Bernhard Gigler came in second behind Koller. Last year's winner Markus Breitfuß completed the podium in third place. There was an Austrian double victory to celebrate in the snowboarder category: Andreas Kroh secured his place at the top of the podium with a spectacular run ahead of his compatriot David Pickl. Germany's Gert Goelen came third.

Austrian Lisa-Maria Ulz was unbeatable in her contest premiere: "I never expected to win here today, as it's my first ever qualifier contest. The fact that it turned out like this is just brilliant," said the beaming winner. Behind her was the German Nina Keysberg, while third place went to another local rider, Elisabeth Auer. Only in the women's snowboard category did victory not go to Austria. The podium was international: Bojana Chalakova from Bulgaria secured victory in Alpbach after coming second at the 2*FWQ in Kappl-Paznaun a week ago. Germany's Maria Greither came second and Austria's Stefanie Knapp third.

Austrian rider Markus Krispler celebrated his second win in a row in the Juniors competition last weekend. Second place went to his compatriot Elias Meister and third to Carver Rodman from the USA. Jill Frey from Germany won the women's competition, ahead of the two Austrians Vicky Candlin and Christiane Freimann.

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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