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ContestHappening 8 2016/17 | FWT Vallnord-ArcalĂ­s, Open Faces Alpbach

Finally the start of the FWT season

by PowderGuide • 02/12/2017
Last Friday, the Freeride World Tour stop was held in Vallnord-ArcalĂ­s. This was followed by events from the FWQ and FJT series in Austria at the weekend.

FWT Vallnord-ArcalĂ­s

The Freeride World Tour 2017 has begun. After the unsuccessful attempt in Chamonix, the Andorra stop made the start this year: on February 9, the 52 riders did the honors in the contest face on the Serra de Balma, already known from previous years as "Smoothy's Garden". The face has some larger features (known mainly from Smoothy's legendary run in 2015), but above all much smaller, domed terrain with some trees. The snow conditions in the upper part seemed quite good, but a little more variable in the lower, sunnier area. Some riders told us that it was only clear shortly beforehand which face would be skied, so there wasn't much time for the final face check.

The men's skiers started in sunshine and good visibility, followed by the women's skiers, the SB men and the SB women. Drew Tabke (USA), FWT veteran and overall winner in 2013, came out on top in the men's ski event with 95 points. He showed a fluid, creative run with a bigger cliff at the beginning, a backflip and some interesting smaller and medium cliff combinations. Second place went to Kristofer Turdell (SWE, 91.3 points), last year's winner of the Vallnord Stop. He chose a steeper, more technical variant than Tabke in the upper section and took slightly fewer features in the lower section. Aymar Navarro (ESP, 89 points) finished in third place with an event wildcard and a challenging double. Felix Wiemers (GER) came 16th and Bene Mayr 20th. The two Austrians Fabio Studer and Stefan Häusl crashed. Studer landed on a stone after a 360 and rolled over, but was then able to ride off unharmed. Häusl crashed on the landing of another cliff and then skied off in a rather shaky manner with the help of the Ski Patrol present. He suffered a slight concussion and is already feeling better again.

Ariana Tricomi (ITA) won the women's ski race . Tricomi is in her second season in the FWT and was able to win a stop for the first time. She showed more drops than all the other women's skiers and finished with 76.6 points ahead of Jackie Paaso (USA), who had to settle for 72 points due to minor technical errors. Third place went to FWT newcomer Kylie Svell from Canada, who moved up from the qualifiers this season. The Austrians Eva Walkner, Nadine Wallner and Lorraine Huber (injury wildcard for 2017) finished in 5th, 7th and 9th place respectively. Many of the ladies chose the same line in the steep upper section. Walkner triggered a very small snow slab here and had to wait briefly to let the sliding snow pass.

Sammy Luebke (USA), the 2016 FWT overall winner, won the men's snowboard category with a flowing run with several big cliffs and a backside 360, which earned him 90 points. Second place went to FWT newcomer Thomas Feuerstein from Vorarlberg with 84 points, followed by Ralph Backstrom (USA). Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA), last year's overall winner and runner-up in the SB women's category, came out on top. She showed a pretty big, technical drop in the upper section as well as some smaller, confident drops further down, which earned her 78 points. Nicola Thost from Germany secured second place. She won Olympic gold in the halfpipe in 1998 and received a wildcard for the tour this year. Like last year, Mikaela Hollsten (FIN) came third. Austrian FWT newcomer Manuela Mandl unfortunately rolled over at the start, but then showed a very solid run.

Here is the event replay.

Here are the rankings.

Highlight clip:

Open Faces Alpbachtal

The Open Faces events in Alpbachtal were also a success: a 2* FJT competition and a 1* FWQ (FJT = Freeride Juniors Tour, for 14-17 year olds). The events serve to promote young talent and as a springboard into the FWQ series. As there is now a lot of competition here, 1* events are important for all those who do not yet have FWQ points and want to enter the tour. You can't get on the start list for the higher rated events without already having points from previous events, and the more the better.

Both the Juniors and the FWQ participants started on Saturday, February 11 on a slope in the Alpbach ski resort that can be reached with a short hike. The face, which has 1* status, has a few cliffs in the upper area, which were used a lot and quite creatively. In bright sunshine and plenty of good snow, the riders put in impressive performances.

The first visit to the Open Faces series in Alpbachtal whets the appetite for more and it is to be hoped that the number of 1* FWQ events will be increased in the future to make it easier and more accessible to get started on the tour. At FWQ 1* events, 50% of the places are allocated according to the seeding list (as at the other events), the remaining 50% on a first-come-first-served basis. This means that half of the places are reserved for riders without points.

Coming up

After the first FWT stop in Chamonix could not take place due to the snow conditions, the plan is to ride twice in Andorra. The event, known as the Swatch Freeride World Tour Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Staged in Vallnord-ArcalĂ­s, would have been scheduled for the following day (February 9), but a deterioration in the weather and problematic snow conditions once again put a spanner in the works. The contest is currently "on hold" and will take place on Wednesday at the earliest.

The FWQ 3* in the Axamer Lizum, which has already been postponed several times, is now scheduled to take place on March 4th. Next weekend, an Open Faces FJT 2* stop is planned in Silvretta-Montafon, followed by a 3* FWQ from February 24-26


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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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