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FWT Kirkwood | Event review

Technically difficult snow conditions and sunshine at the 4th FWT stop

by Knut Pohl 02/27/2013
Changeable, technically demanding snow conditions characterize the 4th FWT stop in Kirkwood.

The snow conditions at the 4th stop of the Freeride World Tour in Kirkwood, California, USA were really tough. Board-hard snow at the start, powder remnants in some gullies and sun and wind crusts in the lower slope areas demanded everything from the riders in terms of technique. However, as the live commentators pointed out, with 30 cm of powder, anyone can make a run look good and flowy. Snow conditions like yesterday's in Kirkwood call for skiing skill, technical class and, last but not least, the nous to know when and how much to hold back. And the skiers were able to combine all of this across the board, mostly excellently in all categories.

As a result, the overall points scores were significantly lower than usual and, not surprisingly, the top ranks were all occupied by athletes who are either used to such conditions by nature or who can generally impress with very versatile skiing technique. However, uncertainties, misplaced skis or "recovery"maneuvers were also repeatedly a determining factor. It is a shame that the latter have not been rated positively since the hot-dogging days. But there were also a few crashes, some of which were spectacular. For example, Willie "Rocket" Schneider fell heavily after a bump and tomahawked over a cliff into a couloir and had to be rescued by the mountain rescue team with a suspected hip injury. Fortunately, all other participants were spared injury.

The results

Women's skiing
1. Jacklyn Paaso (USA)
2. Pia Nic Gundersen (NOR)
3. Ashley Maxfield (USA)
4. Crystal Wright (USA)
5. Nadine Wallner (AUT)
6. Lorraine Huber (AUT)

Men's skiing
1. Lars Chickering-Ayers (USA)
2. Julien Lopez (FRA)
3. Charlie Lyons (NZL)
4 Jérémie Heitz (SUI)
5. Kevin Gury (FRA)
13. Drew Tabke USA)
19. Matthias Haunholder (AUT)
21. Fabio Studer (AUT)
23. Samuel Anthamatten (SUI)
NS Basti Hannemann (GER), Stefan Hausl (AUT)

Women's snowboard
1. Margot Rozies (FRA)
2. Elodie Mouthon (FRA)
3. Shannan Yates (USA)

Snowboard Men
1. Ryland Bell (USA)
2. Sammy Luebke (USA)
3. Emilien Badoux (SUI)
4. Ludovic Guillot-Diat (FRA)
6. Joel Rouge (SUI)
9. Flo Oerly (AUT)

Women's snowboard - Margot Rozies wins due to illness

The women's snowboard competition got underway right on schedule on the first possible day of the contest in perfect weather, with all of them putting in solid performances in the more than difficult snow conditions. However, it was also clear that all of the ladies took their foot off the gas in order to arrive at the bottom in a smooth and controlled manner. The Frenchwoman Margot Rozies (FRA) clearly managed the tightrope walk between flow, aggressiveness and control the best, who was mutedly euphoric at the finish and gave the reason why: "I'm really sick, so I'm very stoked that I came up here because I almost didn't get out of bed. So I am really stoked! Also because the snow conditions were so variable." With this fluid, controlled and definitely worth seeing run, she deserves to win, keeps the golden bib and extends her lead in the overall standings.

Second-placed Elodie Mouthon (FRA) also showed a very solid run, with which she was only narrowly beaten. She can therefore take second place overall in the FWT, pushing Laura Dewey (USA) into third place. Behind her, Shannan Yates finished third on the podium.

Women's skiing - favorite Christine Hargin crashes, Jackie Paaso wins

Directly after the boarders, the women's skiers were able to benefit from the fact that there were still few tracks in the soft sections of the slope and show beautiful, flowing lines. Unfortunately, the only fall was due to the favorite Christine Hargin (SWE), who crashed in a drop runout, lost a ski and thus unfortunately also the lead in the overall standings. Nadine Wallner (AUT) was able to take the lead with a controlled, cautious but fluid run, which earned her 5th place in Kirkwood.

Ashley Maxfield (USA) took more of a risk, took a respectable drop right at the top and finished the slope with speed. A well-deserved third place was the result, which she dedicated to her best friend who died in Kirkwood two years ago. Pia Nic Gundersen (NOR) also showed an aggressive, fluid line, finishing a well-deserved second and also moving up to second place overall. Squaw Valley local Jackie Paaso (USA) knows such snow conditions very well and was therefore able to execute her run very smoothly through technically demanding terrain with some medium-high jumps and deservedly landed at the top of the podium. "I decided to shift down a gear and ski intelligently" said Paaso, "It feels good. Not only not to crash, but to be at the top is great."

Men's skiing - mixed classification and difficult judging

The playful, yet confusing terrain of the contest slope in Kirkwood, as well as the difficult, challenging snow conditions, caused excitement even before the start of the men's skiing and it was expected that the wheat would be separated from the chaff and cautious skiing would prevail. Only New Zealander Chalie Lyons took a relaxed view and said "It's like a good day in New Zealand. I don't think it will change the riding style of many athletes, we might just see a few more crashes".

And he was proved right, as most of the men tackled the face with a lot of speed and still threw themselves into high airs, sometimes with impressive tricks. It goes without saying that falls, skips and uncertainties were the order of the day. FWT overall leader Drew Tabke (USA) also had to experience this, who rode a very aggressive line with a lot of speed, but two imperfect landings after 360s were too much of a good thing and so it was only enough for 13th place. However, the overall lead and thus the golden bib were not in danger.

Lar Lars Chickering-Ayers (USA) was the first to ride a very technical line directly through the contest slope with a lot of speed quite early in the competition. Even though the fluidity of the run still had potential for improvement and a slight hip check was necessary in a landing, it was still enough for a respectable score of 75.33 points at the finish and he was allowed to take a seat on the hot (actually ice-cold) chair. And he stayed there for a long time. Because although some riders chose a very similar line and others showed very fast, fluid and safe runs through other, wide parts of the contest slope, surprisingly no one was able to beat this score yesterday and so the first tour stop victory for Lars Chickering-Ayers is clear.

Julien Lopez (FRA) came in behind him with a fluid run that included some creative jumps and a massive backflip at the end and was rounded off with a technically demanding and creative double drop in a line that no one else chose. This run not only catapulted him to a well-deserved second place, but also to third place overall in the FWT.

Charlie Lyons (NZL) put his relaxed attitude before the start into practice in "the best New Zealand conditions", showing a very fast, aggressive run with a fat drop in the middle section of the slope to take third place.

Jérémie Heitz (SUI) was close behind and therefore no longer on the podium, who once again knew nothing but full throttle in a typical low crouched position with close ski guidance and chose a similar line to Lars Chickening-Ayers. With this placing, he consolidated his second place overall and moved significantly closer to Drew Tabke.

Snowboard men - most difficult conditions

The slope was chopped up quite well in the long run and so the snowboard men certainly had the most difficult conditions of the day at the end in combination with flatter light and cooler temperatures. And a big surprise in the end.

Wild Card winner and Squaw Valley local Ryland Bell (USA) impressed the judges with three 3s in a smooth run and took his first ever victory. Second-placed Sammy Luebke (USA) also proved just how strong the riders from Squaw Valley are in these conditions, after starting with a stylish method air in a flowing, extremely fast run that was not short on airs. Emilien Badoux (SUI) rounded off the podium in third place with a very convincing run with lots of style tricks, such as a Rodeo 540 in the lower part of the slope.

The snowboarders were surprisingly convincing in the really difficult snow conditions and even hard landings didn't stop them from doing big tricks.

Outlook: 5th FWT stop in Fieberbrunn

For the 5th stop, it's back to Europe. To Fieberbrunn in Austria. That's where the final decision will be made as to who wins the ticket for the final in Verbier


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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.

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