Cover Photo – Jeremy Bernard
After a 48 hour weather delay, the Austrian skies went blue and the fourth stop of the 2023 Freeride World Tour was a go on Thursday, March 16th! With a stupendous coat of fresh snow, the iconic Wildseeloder mountain could not have been more picturesque. With snow conditions varying around the face and both snowboarding groups having already dropped, there were challenging aspects to the day for our skiers. The remaining riders who made the cut following the previous FWT stop in Kicking Horse, BC were ready to rumble, and we were treated to one of the best performances of the season. The six women and eleven men who dropped in painted their way with a mix of big mountain charging and freestyle creativity; a perfect combination for all who tuned in. Below you’ll find results, highlights, photos and more from Fieberbrunn, Austria.
In the Ski Women’s field three of the six riders struggled to lay down their chosen line. Elisabeth Gerritzen (NS), Addison Rafford and Molly Armanino all encountered challenging conditions on their lines that happened to get the best of them. Molly had an incredible promising run as she charged her way across the entire course, but fell short just near the end as she couldn’t hold on to a large air in the final stretch. These three will undoubtably be hungry for more come time for the Xtreme Verbier. In third place was Megane Betend. The French phenom had an unbelievable recovery a third of the way through her line, as she rode out of what appeared to be an accidental 360 after getting hung up in an incredibly steep and rocky section of the course. While it was a maneuver that left everyone cheering for more, and the rest of her run was executed with style and strength, she was docked points in the Control category. Justine Dufour-Lapointe took home second place, making her the current leader in the Ski Women’s field heading into the fifth and final stop. While Justine’s run was incredible, complete with multiple airs, shifty, and powerful turns, the day belonged to Arianna Tricomi. With six years on the tour and half as many FWT titles, Arianna is no stranger to performing under pressure. She needed to perform great to boost her odds going into the finale, and perform she did. The Italian Stallion took a creative line on the lookers left side of the course, as she hit multiple airs, dialed in a 360, and held pristine control through blazing speeds.
“I had a lot of fun with my run. In some parts, the snow was a bit crusty, and other sections were good, so I came out with a lot of speed at times. My goal was to do a 360, which I did, so I really enjoyed it. Being back on tour is magical for sure!” – Arianna Tricomi
In the Ski Men’s field, we saw three riders, (Marcus Goguen, Max Palm, Finn Bilous) all receive NS on account of tough crashes during their runs. The remaining eight riders struggled to clear over 80 points, with only the top four finishers doing so. Granted, the scoring is challenging in these final two stops, but these scores also point to challenging conditions throughout. When considering this, the top scorers performances are quite admirable. It was the French rookie Oscar Mandin who took third place, adding to his previous second place finish during this years first stop at Baquiera-Beret. Oscar’s line took him to the lookers right of the course, with several large airs and beautiful flat 3. Second place belonged to the reigning FWT Ski Men’s champion Maxime Chabloz. Maxime has been relatively quiet on the tour when compared to his unbelievable performance last year, but the Swiss ripper has still had multiple podiums and is skiing lights out heading into the final stop, as he’s only 1500 behind the first place Valentin Rainer. He stomped one of the larger backflips we saw out there, and while he was nearly caught up on a landing and a few turns, his staple cork 7 and sturdy turns towards the end brought him the podium. The first place finisher was none other than Andrew Pollard. Alta’s prodigal son put on arguably his best performance of the year, as he demonstrated technical big mountain abilities with a mix of freeride prowess, (including a tasteful daffy). With two lofty 360s and several transfer airs, Andrew painted his was down the Wildseeloder in mesmerizing style.
“It was a long week waiting for the conditions to be right, but we proved that the weather window works and that sometimes delaying the start is the best thing to do. I was happy to put down my run, which is always harder on a long venue like this. I didn’t think I could win anymore with all the young kids on tour, so I am just grateful to be here in Austria and stoked to win.” – Andrew Pollard
Ski Women’s Podium
- Arianna Tricomi (ITA)
- Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN)
- Megane Betend (FRA)
Ski Men’s Podium
- Andrew Pollard (USA)
- Maxime Chabloz (SUI)
- Oscar Mandin (FRA)
Click here for the official FWT replay from stop four. With the Yeti Xtreme Verbier finale just a few days away, stay tuned for action ahead. Wax your twigs and get fired up! It’s March Madness on skis, baby.
Photos courtesy of the Freeride World Tour
Photography by Jeremy Bernard
Shouldn’t the Freeride World Tour sell riders jerseys? That would be sweet. Xtreme Verbier here we come!