From the Freeride World Tour — Engadin St. Moritz, Switzerland (Jan. 30) – Henrik Windstedt (SWE) and Matt Annetts (USA) took advantage of a feature-filled Corvatsch north face to post amazing runs that put them at the top of ski and snowboard categories. Today's results open up the overall race in both men's ski and snowboard events with any number of riders still in contention for the title of Freeride World Champion.
Going into today's event all eyes were on Frenchmen Aurélien Ducroz following his win in the first event of the Freeride World Tour 2011. However, Windstedt threw down a jaw-dropping line that was fast, smooth and included several cleanly stomped airs that boosted him to the top of the podium.
Local riders told Freeride World Tour athletes they had rarely seen the north face of the Corvatsch in such great condition for the contest. The steep, 550-meter face included two starts and what head judge Martin Winkler (AUT) described as "myriad opportunities for winning lines including broad open faces, plenty of goat lines and loads of features of all sizes." Once on the face, riders found a variety of conditions from knee-deep powder to thinly-covered landings and grippy snow that made it difficult to maintain control through the high speed finish.
Second place was wildcard Torgrim Vole (NOR) who took the lead early and held it until Windstedt, starting third from last, edged him out. Just after Windstedt crossed the finish line, perennial favourite Seb Michaud (FRA) dropped in and charged one of the most creative lines of the day, including several nice airs and a cleanly stomped backflip at the end, which was enough to secure third place.
"It is a long face with a lot of features. Really fun! But it was more difficult than my first impression. There are a lot of angles and flat landings, which was pretty tricky. It really helped to see the face from the gondola and at the start ridge. I got first tracks in my run and had to manage a lot of sluff. This is my best result on a Freeride World Tour contest and I am really happy to get going!"
Today's event showed that seemingly-invincible Xavier de Le Rue (FRA) can, in fact, be beaten as the three-time Freeride World Champion seemed to have an off day. Rather, the day belonged to Matt Annetts (USA), who launched his run with a nice jump followed by a good four-meter drop that had taken out the skier just before him. He then hit the middle of the course with fast smooth style before finishing with another clean air at the bottom.
Filling the remaining podium spots were Mitch Toelderer (AUT) who took the lead early with a fast, fluid run that included several drops. His run was just enough to push him past third place finisher Flo Örley (AUT) who is returning to competition after taking a year off.
"I really like this face. Its long and there are lots of things to do on the way down. For not having been snowing in the region for quite some time the snow was amazing. I had a fairly safe run. I wanted to stay on my feet. I knew there were a lot of flat landings. If you would go too fast on that face today you would hit the landings too hard. I've had a few podiums on the tour but it feels good to finally be on the top!"
1. Henrik Windstedt (SWE)
2. Torgrim Vole (NOR)
3. Sebastien Michaud (FRA)
1. Matt Annetts (USA)
2. Mitch Toelderer (AUT)
3. Flo Orley (AUT)
The Freeride World Tour 2011 six stages:
1. Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc 2011 by Swatch (FRA)
Date: 22 January 2011 – Men / Women – Ski / Snowboard
2. Nissan Freeride Engadin St. Moritz 2011 by Swatch (SUI)
Date: 30 January 2011 – Men – Ski / Snowboard
3. The North Face Masters of Crystal Mountain 2011 by Swatch and PrimaLoft (USA)
Date: 7 February 2011 – Men – Snowboard
North American Freeskiing Championships Kirkwood 2011 by Swatch, The North Face and Sierra Nevada
Date: 25 February 2011 – Men / Women – Ski
4. Nissan Russian Adventure Sochi 2011 (RUS)
Date: 5 March 2011 – Men – Ski / Snowboard
5. Big Mountain Fieberbrunn 2011 by Nissan (AUT)
Date: 12 March 2011 – Men – Ski / Snowboard
6. Nissan Xtreme Verbier 2011 by Swatch (SUI)
Date: 19 March 2011 (Finals) – Men / Women – Ski / Snowboard
Women's Main Events 2011
1. La Clusaz Radikal Mountain (FRA)
Date: 16 January 2011
2. Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc 2011 by Swatch (FRA)
Date: 22 January 2011
3. Big Mountain Hochfügen (AUT)
Date: 5 February 2011
4a. The North Face Masters of Crystal Mountain 2011 by Swatch and PrimaLoft (USA)
Date: 25 February 2011 – SKI ONLY
4b. The North Face Masters of Snowboarding 2011 by Swatch, Kirkwood, Calif. (USA)
Date: 5 March 2011 – SNOWBOARD ONLY
5. Salomon Extreme Freeride Championship, Taos, New Mexico, (USA)
Date: 5 March 2011 – SKI ONLY
6. Nendaz Freeride (SUI)
Date: 12 March 2011
7. Nissan Xtreme Verbier 2011 by Swatch (SUI)
Date: 19 March 2011 – FINAL for qualified riders
8. Röldal Freeride (NOR)
Date: 30 April 2011