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ContestHappening 4 2023 | Crunchtime in Canada

Max Hitzig turns everything upside down

by Sebastian Müller 02/21/2023
On Friday, the FWT made up for the stop planned as the start of the tour at the infamous Ozone Face in Kicking Horse, Canada. The highest art of freeriding was on offer: Snowboarder Liam Rivera won as a rookie for Mexico, on skis Max Hitzig and Valentin Rainer confirmed their huge potential, and in the women's event rookie Megane Betend won on skis and Michaela Davis-Meehan on snowboard. The riders have been cut and are now heading to the finals in Fieberbrunn and Verbier.

The slope and the conditions

were once again characterized by below-average snow conditions, but also by a good layer of powdery fresh snow (certainly up to half a metre), which was heavily packed. The slope extends over 324 vertical meters, is exposed to the south-east and is up to 44 degrees steep. It is characterized by many rocky areas, which had some nasty surprises in store for the skiers in this variable snow situation. It is the fifth anniversary of this slope and overall, the conditions were very good for spectacular freeriding with a clever choice of line, but slightly riskier lines and less luck caused many riders to fall, although fortunately no one was injured.

We report according to the starting order and orient ourselves from the perspective of the audience. Of course, moving images are worth less than a thousand words, so let's start with the video:

Snowboard men

With bib number 1, Liam Rivera made a strong start on the far left slope. The conditions there were characterized by a lot of fresh snow and sharks were less of a problem. He showed two 360s, turned in both directions, with clean landings. Jonathan Penfield skied the same line with one 360 less and finished third. Ludovic Guillat-Diat, who was already qualified for the finals, chose the central couloir with a lot of speed and some jumps and consolidated his place at the top with second place in the day's ranking. All the other riders fell victim to sharks and deep landings. It was a promising overture that showed both the excellent deep-powdery but also difficult conditions. Congratulations to Lima Rivera on winning the day and, together with Ludovic Guillat-Diat, Jonathan Penfield, Holden Samuels and Michael Mawn, on qualifying for the finals!


Men's skis

The first highlight was set by Valentin Rainer, who confirmed his strong development: 360 over the cornice into the central couloir, then a daring double in rocky terrain and finally a backflip, all landed very cleanly. What actually looked like winning the day was in the end "only" enough for third place, as the 18-year-old Marcus Goguen started immediately after him and combined a 360 far to the left with a wide jump, an uncompromising swing to the next cliff and a backflip over it. The judges awarded 92 points and thus first place for the time being. Finn Bilous, a freestyler, followed with a technically demanding, fluid line and a very smooth 360 at the end and took third place for the time being. A few minor and major disappointments followed, Reine Barkered was unable to pull off his planned line, and Craig Murray and Abel Moga missed the cut due to crashes. Leif Mumma again showed his skiing class with fast, controlled turns in the most difficult terrain, aiming for the "Logan Pehota"-Cliff, the biggest of the slope, but was slightly offset on the jump and also fell. Unfortunately, he missed the cut. Next to it he kicked off a pretty big slab of snow, which didn't bother him, but the lack of a base caused Max Palm quite a bit of trouble later on. Andrew Pollard showed his class on the far left, standing one jump and a 360 cleanly and finishing in 6th place with 77 points.

And then Max Hitzig came along and turned everything on its head. He jumped into the half-left part of the slope with a 360 over the cornice, crossed further left, took and landed a double, controlled his speed skillfully and headed for the "Yu Sasaki/ George Rodney"-Cliff. He took off, slowly laid back for a backflip and landed elegantly and smoothly three seconds later. The biggest cliff of the day with a backflip! At the finish line, Max was embraced and celebrated by his competitors, everyone was stoked about what they had just seen. Max took the lead with 97.67 points and ultimately won with aplomb.

Women's skiing

It was Justine Dufour-Lapointe who put the first exclamation mark on the little-noticed right side of the slope, with a jump at the top, a fluid run through the trees and a mighty cliff with a controlled backslap at the end. Olivia McNeill, on the other hand, chose the left side of the slope. She skied smoothly and with good control through the very steep and rocky terrain and had three jumps to offer. Megane Betend from Chamonix skied aggressively through the central couloir of the slope and finally jumped a triple at high speed to take the lead. Addison Rafford also went into the center of the slope, crossed to the left into untracked terrain, put a few jumps into the snow and lined up in second place. She was immediately edged out by Elisabeth Gerritzen, who chose a similar line to Megane Betend through the central couloir and was rewarded with second place. Sybille Blanjean also showed a strong line in the left part of the slope, but missed the top places and unfortunately did not make the cut either. It was a very strong performance by the women, and we congratulate Megane Betend on winning the day and, together with Addison Rafford, Molly Armanino, Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Elisabeth Gerritzen, on qualifying for the finals.

Snowboard women

Michaela Davis-Meehan, like Liam Rivera, was the first to start, chose the left side of the slope and took two big jumps very smoothly and cleanly, visibly enjoying the powder and not allowing herself to be pushed out of the lead. Estelle Rizzolio skied aggressively into the central couloir, eventually taking a double at high speed and finishing in second place. Finally, Anna Orlova skied into the left part of the slope, skied in a controlled manner in untracked terrain, triggered a snow slab, waited for its exit and skied smoothly with another jump to third place. Congratulations to Michaele Davis-Meehan, who unfortunately still didn't make the cut. Katie Anderson, Anna Orlova and Estelle Rozzolio qualified for the finals.

The overall standings

Among the snowboarders, rookie Liam Rivera has moved into second place in the overall standings, behind leader Ludovic Guillot-Diat and ahead of three US-Americans. In the men's ski category, best friends Max Hitzig and Valentin Rainer are in second and first place in the overall standings, raising hopes of a German-speaking overall winner. They have a considerable lead over the competition and are being chased by Maxime Chabloz, Ross Tester, Max Palm, Carl Regnér Eriksson... In the women's snowboard category, Katie Anderson is comfortably in the lead with two wins on the day, but Estelle Rozzolio and Anna Orlova will certainly get their chance in this three-way battle. Addison Rafford is in the lead in the women's skiing category, but four riders, led by Molly Armanino, are hot on her heels. The starting position is set for exciting finals in all categories!


As always, it was a great show of freeriding, especially when you look at the winners. Of course, the conditions were not ideal, a fairly large but wind-blown amount of fresh snow lay on a thin base. Many falls due to sharks and deep landings were the result, but all of them were happy. We spectators were assured that the local organizers would do everything for avalanche safety, but what exactly that means remains unclear - there were no blasting operations. The slope was characterized by avalanches, and plumes of snow were always to be admired across the cornice. Conservative ski tourers would probably judge the slope critically. In the end, there were two smaller and one larger avalanche, both of which were minor.


At this stop, two-time overall FWT winner Kristoffer Turdell was unfortunately unable to compete in the finals due to illness, as well as Cody Bramwell and Erika Vikander due to guiding commitments. We will also be missing many well-known and strong riders at the finals: Hans Mindnich, Enzo Nilo, Camille Armand, Xander Guldman, Reine Barkered, Manu Barnard, Leif Mumma, Abel Moga, Jack Nichols, Ralph Welponer, Jedidiah Kravitz, Craig Murray, Jamesa Hampton, Sybille Bleanjean, Olivia McNeill, Delila Quinn, Jessica Hotter, Lily Bradley, Michaele Davis-Meehan and Tiphanie Perrotin. All that remains is to wish them the best of luck at the next FWQ events or on wildcards! Above all, Leif Mumma has captured my skier's heart and I hope to see him again soon!

The outlook

The finals on the Wildseeloder in Fieberbrunn and on the Bec des Rosses in Verbier are coming up in March. The snow conditions are probably modest at the moment, but we are optimistic about the precipitation that is sure to come and good, fair and safe conditions for the finals.

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.

Show original (German)

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