(Ed’s note: Griffin Post is a competitor on the Freeskiing World Tour, but is not competing at Revelstoke. He obviously has insider information not privy to Powder editors.)
By John Stifter and Griffin Post
Calm your apocalyptic fears people (for a bit, anyway)—Revelstoke has snow. Lots of it. With a 65-inch base depth and nearly 14 feet of snowfall to date, the mountain is primed for the third stop of the Freeskiing World Tour, especially the north-facing contest venue off the back of Mount Mackenzie. Now that the Freeskiing World Tour and Freeride World Tour have officially merged (finally, one FWT acronym), competitors are eager as ever to charge and send it in the good conditions. But the absence of snow in the continental U.S. could no doubt hurt the Americans since they simply haven’t had much snow to train and practice for the 2012 season. Undoubtedly, the Euros and Canucks, with their massive snowpacks, are keen and prepared as ever to podium at Revy. —JS
Griffin Post’s selections
Revelstoke comes early every year, and it probably feels particularly early this year to U.S.-based athletes given poor early season conditions. That said, I’m banking on athletes with umlauts and accents in their last names, plus a few that use “eh” regularly and refer to beanies as “toques.” I love Americans, but in the high-stakes world of inconsequential Internet predicting, I gotta go for the “W.” Sorry, Yanks.
1. Guerlain Chicherit. Yes, he’s the tour leader, but more importantly he’s going to benefit from the high-consequence lines skier’s left on Day 1 and the visual inspection on Day 2. Truly French—both in his skiing and behavior—the Revelstoke venues are tailor-made for Guerlain.
2. Henrik Windstedt. I don’t know how Sweden’s snow is this year, but then again, I’m pretty sure Henrik doesn’t either. I assume he’s been preparing for the season in top-secret Red Bull training facilities, skiing powder in the Alps, and looking at photos of himself skiing and/or modeling (just kidding, love you Hankey). Regardless of what he’s been doing, Henrik is always going to be a frontrunner in my mind. He’ll be able to pack out some lips to get tricky on the Day 1 venue, and still be able to dominate the visual-inspection Day 2 venue.
3. Kevin O’Meara. I know this goes against my aforementioned reasoning, but there may be no better “off the couch” skier than Kevin. Although there’s been next to no snow in the Tahoe local’s backyard, I don’t really see this affecting him. Perhaps one of my favorite skiers to watch, he’ll come out of the gate charging, and will bite off a big chunk on Day 1.
Darkhorses: If Matty Richard shows up (that’s right, I’m calling you out Matty) look for him to turn some heads. Fernie-based Caleb Brown is another Canadian that I’m sure has already banked more powder days so far this year than most people get in an entire season. Finally, although I’ve only seen him ski a handful of times, Björn Heregger is about as hard-charging and hungry as they come.
John Stifter’s selections
After a stop in Chile and Argentina, Tignes, France native Guerlien Chicherit currently holds the top spot after winning in Las Leñas and placing sixth at Chile’s Ski Arpa. The savvy 2006 and 2007 Tour champ is in the midst of his comeback year, so expect another strong showing from him. Kirkwood’s Josh Daiek had a strong showing in South America, placing sixth and second, respectively, which now puts him number two overall. Surprisingly, Mad River Glen’s Lars Chickering-Ayers elected not to compete this winter after impressive performances in South America, as he plans to focus on developing a new binding amongst other things, which leaves the door open for someone to round out the podium.
1. Guerlien Chicherit. Since Europe has snow and so does Revy, I’m looking for the flying Frenchman to come out of the gates charging down the Mackenzie venue looking to solidify his place at the top.
2. Drew Tabke. The Seattle, Wash., resident and reigning Tour champ is quite displeased with his performances, or lack thereof, this past summer. He’s currently in 13th place in the Tour standings, so I expect Tabke to send it on a venue where he finished second in 2011, and regain his podium form.
3. Kevin O’Meara. Look, I have no idea where O’Meara has been skiing this season since his home mountain of Squaw Valley is currently skiing like a Magic Mountain carpet hill behind your local ski shop’s parking lot. But I have a funny feeling that he’ll produce a podium result at Revy since he’s coming off a pretty consistent performance in South America, especially at Ski Arpa where he finished third.
Darkhorses: Alpine Meadows Willie Schneider placed fourth at Las Leñas, displaying some freestyle skills at the Red Bull Powder Disorder. The Mackenzie venue at Revy has some big cliffs, a few of which skiers can trick off of. This sets up well for versatile skiers like Schneider.
1. Janina Kuzma. Maybe it’s her Kiwi accent or her “Sickbird” belt buckle, but I predict Janina to come through with lines that will make half of the men’s field blush. The super-friendly, part-time Canadian likely only took a small break between hemisphere’s ski seasons, so she should be ready to throw down.
2. Leah Evans. I’d be foolish not to pick at least one Revelstoke loc’. Leah Evans likely knows the venues better than any other woman competing, and has the skiing skills to capitalize on it.
3. Lorraine Huber. Plagued by injury and illness in 2011, Lorraine has been training hard and I expect big things from her in the 2012 season. Not afraid to hang tough with the boys of the Arlberg, Lorraine has likely benefited from Austria’s December powder.
Darkhorses: Jackie Paaso, Jess McMillan, Angel Collinson are hands down top contenders. But Europe and Canada’s snow-filled December kept them out of my top picks. Tatum Monad is another underrated Canadian that has what it takes and has been shredding enough to edge out some of the world’s best. Plus, how could I not pick someone whose biography starts out, “To me skiing means life and as far as I can remember, it always has.”
1. Jacqui Edgerly. The Aspen native placed sixth at Revy in 2011, and I look for her to improve upon that and use her all-around skills to place atop the podium and move up from seventh in the overall standings.
2. Angel Collinson. It’s no secret that Snowbird’s Collinson is the most consistent female on the tour, finishing second at Las Lenas and Ski Arpa. But I don’t think she finds her full form at Revy, giving her another second place finish on the 2011-12 Tour.
3. Crystal Wright. The cowgirl from Wyoming currently sits atop the overall standings and placed fourth here in 2011. Undoubtedly, the former ski racer charges big, long venues like Mackenzie. But will she be able to find a creative line and stomp potential cliff airs? If she can, Wright could easily retain her first place standing, propelling her into the U.S. part of the Tour.