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Report: Verbier Xtreme | Final of the Freeride Worldtour 2012

Report from the 16th Verbier Xtreme

by Sebastian Siep 03/27/2012
"ALL WINNERS IN VERBIER ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS" could already be read in the news on the Freeride Worldtour homepage on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, March 24th, in front of 1000 spectators sizzling in the sun and another 25,000 cheering live via the internet, the top riders were allowed to draw their signatures into the steep north face of the Bec des Rosses. The 16th edition of the Verbier Xtreme and the Freeride World Tour have now come to an end.

"ALL WINNERS IN VERBIER ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS" could already be read in the news on the homepage of the Freeride Worldtour on Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, March 24th, in front of 1000 spectators sizzling in the sun and another 25,000 cheering live via the Internet, the top riders were allowed to draw their signatures into the steep north face of the Bec des Rosses. The 16th edition of the Verbier Xtreme and the Freeride World Tour have now come to an end.

The finale, the descent of the legendary 500-metre altitude run, which was over 50° steep in places and interspersed with rocks, was once again an exciting competition with a few surprises for the competitors and spectators. It was surprising for the spectators that this year there were three starting gates for the riders. In addition to the women's starting point on the smaller but no less attractive face of the "small Bec" and the men's summit gate, there was a third gate 80 meters below the top section due to the current snow conditions.

Due to the favourable snow conditions at the summit, the organizers decided to make it easier for the male riders who wanted to ski the centercouloir. As a result, the top 80 vertical meters on the north side, the "Dog Leg Culoir" and the traverse leading to the third gate were declared a scoring-free zone. This was to ensure equal opportunities for the various lines released for the different types of men's riders and to allow them to be assessed by the judges.

Some riders seemed surprised, as the snow was often difficult to assess. Apparently, the hard old snow often came through the beautifully powdery new snow that had fallen at the beginning of the week. This was a real challenge for the riders and some of the favorites crashed. Fortunately, this year all riders were able to make it to the party in the evening without any serious injuries and the start gate on the summit also remained faithfully in place throughout the competition.

The best-off video from Verbier Xtreme 2012

The women led the way first: Here, too, there were clear exclamation marks at the end of the tour. Swedish winner Christine Hargin, for example, put the exclamation point under her exclamation mark with a remarkable cliff drop at the end of a solid and fluid line. The winner, who was the only athlete to score a run with over 9 points, as well as second-placed Eva Walkner (AUT) and third-placed Angel Collinson (USA), all rode "men's lines", as judge Martin MCFly Winkler put it.

On the FWT Ski Women podium, Angel Collinson (USA) came second behind the new world champion Christine Hargine (SWE) and Eva Walkner (AUT) came third.

In the women's snowboarding competition, it was Maria De Bari (USA) who won over the judges with a fearless, technically clean run. The American won ahead of Margot Rozies (FRA) and Maria Kurzma (NZL). With her clear victory, she put the crown on her own head and ascended to the throne of the FWT Snowboard Ladies ahead of her rivals Margot Rozies (FRA) in second and Shannan Yates (USA) in third.

After that, it was time to switch to the top two gates. The skiers were in debt after the ladies' impressive show. The audience is also demanding at the Bec.

The leading Sam Smoothy (NZL) lifted the tension barometer straight to the top after he was the first to open the Centerculoir and made the mighty Hollywood Cliff look very small with a gigantic set. Shortly afterwards, the insidious snow unfortunately caused him to stumble and after a few "tomahawk hits" he fortunately came to a halt unharmed directly above the next cliff band. This unintentionally caused double the tension as the question of the Tour Champion was now completely open again. One of the contenders is tour wildcard rider Oakley White Allen (USA). The author of this report gives him the personal "Sickbirdaward", as he managed to amaze the audience without a single jump and surprised them with a remarkable straight line, which is quite an achievement in these conditions.

The podium places were fiercely contested and the riders clearly showed why they are the best. It was a shame for wildcard rider Thomas Leitner (GER), who was the only rider to make one of the impressive cliffs in the lower section with a whopping 3, but fell directly afterwards due to a previous track.

Seemingly unimpressed by the falls and conditions, Aurelien Ducroz (FRA) tackled the Center Couloir. And, as in previous years, continued his line technically flawlessly right up to the finish. Only one skier was even stronger. Reine Bakered (SWE) gave the feeling of being on autopilot right from the start. With stoic calm, he skied his line, which was packed with powerful drops, from the summit into the valley at what felt like the speed of sound. The day was made perfect for him when none other than Nicolas Salencon (ARG) thundered his beautiful run over the Hollywood Cliff into the valley. With a humorous spreadeagle, the South American probably also put a smile on the judges' faces and relegated Drew Tabke (USA), the overall leader of the Freeride World Tour at the time, to third place.

Reine Bakered has finally reached the summit of the FWT SKI MEN podium after narrowly failing to do so last year. Behind him, Drew Tabke (USA) was delighted to finish runner-up in his first World Tour and defending champion and double winner Aurelien Ducroz (FRA) is still waiting for his trio in third place.

Final record by the snowboarders

The snowboarders had the final record this year: Ralph Backstrom (USA) and Jonathan Charlet (FRA) were tied at the top of the table. The decision of the duel was to remain open until the last rider. Because there were still athletes in the field who had already shown how to beat the Bec. So it was Flo Orley (AUT) who, with a tight program of big jumps in his line, surfed the frustration of last year's fall from the soul and achieved one of the top results with the judges. Xavier de le Rue (FRA) once again tried to show that he seems to be competing in a category of his own and conjured up one of his works of art on the flank of the mountain, jumping the Hollywood Cliff in a variation he had never attempted before. However, he landed somewhat uncleanly and had to finish behind the rock-solid run of Max Zipser (AUT), among others, in the untitled places.

The decision in the duel between the two leading FWT snowboarders was almost impossible to understand, as the raving fans of Charmonix-based Jonathan Charlet (FRA) provided a loud backdrop. With a technically clean run and a daring line that defied the conditions, the newcomer to the tour won the day and the title after his opponent fell. It was very pleasing that two Austrians, Flo Orley (AUT) in second and Max Zipser (AUT) in third, were able to join the winner on the podium.

Flo Orley (AUT) managed to finish the FWT Snowboard Men in third place behind the tour winner Jonathan Charlet (FRA) and Ralph Backström (USA), who was a convincing runner-up throughout the entire tour.

Congratulations and thank you!

Congratulations to all the winners and many thanks to the organizers for the impressive moments over such a long period of time. We are eagerly awaiting the next Freeride World Tour and the 17th edition of the legendary Xtreme Verbier, which is sure to surprise us again!

More photos from the event

Watch all the videos from Verbier on the FWT YouTube channel

Photo gallery

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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