Blink and you’ll miss it, the 2023 Freeride World Tour is off to a hot start! On January 29, the first stop of the tour was signed, sealed, and delivered from Baqueira Beret, Spain. It’s been a long anticipated start to the season, and with much of Europe recently seeing huge storm surges, it couldn’t have opened any better as the venue had a freshly sprinkled blanket of snow. A notoriously dicey face, the course at Baqueira Beret has filled in well as of recent, but it’s not at the same levels of snow pack that we saw last year. It’s a sharky venue with many available features to fly off of, and even more to get caught up on. That being said, the athletes performed brilliantly. A bluebird day filled with exuberant fans and top tier energy were host to the beginning of this years FWT season. As always, the link for the Tour’s full analysis of the event can be found at the bottom, followed by a photo gallery of the days best shots.
The 10 ski women competitors gave us a hot start to the ski side of the tour, as they followed up the snowboard men category in the afternoon. We saw Tour rookie Molly Armanino taking the first drop out of the gate. She was a stellar competitor in last years qualifiers, but ended up suffering brutal frostbite in the Montana backcountry while filming which hindered the rest of her season. She earned a wildcard spot on this years tour and came out with fire in her eyes. Her billy-goat style line was technically executed extremely well with several airs sprinkled in, but it wasn’t quite enough to earn her the victory. Fellow rookie Addison Rafford put down a stylish and smooth first run of her FWT career. With two large airs coupled with grabs, wide sufty turns and a beautiful line choice, Addie was awarder a score 72.67, just besting Molly’s score by 2.67 points. The 21 year took the ski women’s top spot in Spain, and made it clear that these young riders on the tour are here to not just compete, but to lay their cards on the table and take home the gold. Third place was earned by Sybille Blanjean. Her second year on the Tour, Sybille will no doubt be a name to know in the events moving forward.
“My run was so much fun. I found it hard to pick my line from the visual inspection, but it turned out well, and I really enjoyed it. It’s my first time in Europe, and I’m super stoked to be in Baqueira Beret – this place is unreal!” – Addison Rafford
The ski men’s category saw an equally as competitive event, with 22 incredible riders all vying for the win. All eyes were on last years FWT men’s champion Maxime Chabloz. After having arguably the best rookie year on record, 21 year old Maxime was first to drop for the ski men’s, who cleaned up the day and were the last field to go. While he put down a very strong run, earning a score of 75.00, the Swiss phenom was not the top dog of the day. It was Max Palm, the young rider who landed the first double backflip in FWT history last year, who was crowned the victor of the day with an impressive score of 86.33. With a dicey 360 into the couloir and a gigantic backflip lower on the face, Max exhibited incredible control and technique on a line that had little room for error. Top it off with a high stakes straight-line to end his run and it’s no wonder Max got first. In second place was the French rookie Oscar Mandin. A wildcard this year, Oscar made the most of his first rip out from the starting gate with a difficult line, combining smooth turns, a large air and a picture-perfect backflip for the ages. Grabbing third was a familiar face from Sweden, the always entertaining Carl Regnér Eriksson. These three competitors were the only male skiers to score above 80.00, and their podiums were well earned without a doubt. It’s worth noting the three NS of the field, Craig Murray, Kristofer Turdell and Ross Tester are three of the most talented riders on this roster. They’ll surely be putting down great lines at stop number two.
“I am so stoked to be back in Baqueira after getting the win here last year. Since I woke up this morning everything has gone well. I had the best runs on piste, and I just felt it was going to be a good day. I put down my run and stuck to my plan, ending up in first position. Baqueira is the best place ever, I just love this place!” – Max Palm
Stay tuned for the second stop of the 2023 Freeride World Tour – Ordino Arcalís, Thursday February second.
Ski Women’s Podium
- Addison Rafford (USA)
- Molly Armanino (USA)
- Sybille Blanjean (SUI)
Ski Men’s Podium
- Max Palm (SWE)
- Oscar Mandin (FRA)
- Carl Regnér Eriksson (SWE)
For complete information from Stop One of the FWT ’23 on the official Tour website, click here.
Photographer – Jeremy Bernard
Images courtesy of the Freeride World Tour