For immediate release:
CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC, FRANCE – January 24, 2015 – The first stop of the 2015 SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE (FWT) concluded today. The competition was held at the Brévent ski area on the Chamois face just in front of Europe’s highest mountain, the Mont Blanc.
1. Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA), 92.75
2. Reine Barkered (SWE), 89.25
3. Drew Tabke (USA), 86.25
1. Eva Walkner (AUT), 73.00
2. Christine Hargin (SWE), 72.50
3. Silvia Moser (ITA), 70.00
To see the full results, visit FreerideWorldTour.com.
The contest went well and was followed by 106,000 viewers via the live streaming on the web—despite tricky conditions with clouds just below the face constantly threatening visibility on the Chamois competition face.
The face is mostly east-facing and feature packed. Good visibility and dense powder snow provided reliable conditions for riding with good flow, playfulness and pulling tricks off the features. As the day moved on the snow got a little crustier with the sun getting lightly veiled. Male and female skiers and snowboarders competed in the event representing fifty-nine of the world's best freeriders with the male snowboarders opening the ball.
The slightly convex start had riders dropping "blind" into the face, obliging them to trust 100 percent what they saw in their inspection from the bottom for orientation. "Sharks" (hidden rocks just under the snow surface) and wind-affected snow added to the challenge up top. The reward was great snow and good take offs for the rest of the face with some low-snow management needed in the landings of the bottom airs. The conditions on the slightly more southwest-facing part of the face under start number 2 involved good dense snow, provided that one stayed out of chunks and debris from avalanches blown for safety earlier in the season.
"It was great to see so many riders putting together unique and creative lines,” says FWT judge Dion Newport (NZL). “The venue was demanding as it was short and features were close so it came down to riders linking a smooth line together."
In the men's skiing category, defending FWT Champion, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) set the tone with a score of 92.75 after a longer break in the contest due to low hanging dense clouds interfering with safety helicopter logistics. He stomped a huge air right off the top—apparently bigger than what he had anticipated. Experience whispered to him that it would be enough if he could keep it together in a strong style for the rest of his run, leaving out a planned 360 on the second air.
"I’m happy with my run,” says Collomb-Patton. “I was going to do a 360 in the middle but since I really went huge on the top air, I thought, I must have scored on that one—better to be smart and safe."
Collomb-Patton revealed that he does feel that pressure is higher this year: "I was really, really under pressure and tense all morning. Sure of my line, but under pressure from having won here last year and having won the overall title. Once I got in the start gate I only had one thing in my head, stomp it all, stay on your feet, no backslaps and let’s take it all the way to the bottom."
Reine Barkered (SWE) showed that he is still right up there, despite the compact nature of this face not being advantageous to his fast riding style. He placed second with a score of 89.25. Drew Tabke (USA) on the other hand looked like he was right at home on the face, choosing an easier but very playful freestyle line including a Lincoln off a lip, giving him a score of 86.25 the 3rd place.
Finally, by the time the women skiers had the chance to drop into the Chamois face, the light was low and a small crust had formed on the snow, which calmed things down. Eva Walkner (AUT) came back for the win after two years fighting with knee injuries.
"Two years, so many surgeries, pain coming back, it’s been a horrible two years for me honestly and today I put myself under so much pressure at the start,” Walkner says. "That I would win, it’s a dream." Christine Hargin (SWE) followed Eva in second place with a nice line down the middle of the face with little hesitation, earning her a score of 72.50. In third place, was the young rookie Silvia Moser (ITA) who showed that she is right in the heels with her risky line, giving her a score of 70.00.