Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria – In front of the cheering crowd Silas Chickering-Ayers (USA), Sammy Luebke (USA), Nadine Wallner (AUT) and Elodie Mouthon (FRA) scored the highest points in their respective disciplines at the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR 2013 BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT) at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria. The fifth and last event prior to the grande finale in Verbier (SUI), saw intense competition at the highest level. The event was decisive for athletes to score enough points to earn a spot for the finals and qualify for next year. The top ranked riders needed to place well to maintain a position in the competition for the overall world champion title. The fierce battle continues to win the first ever, unified Freeride World Tour Champion titles after a sensational season.
After a week's waiting period due to difficult snow and weather conditions, the sun finally came out at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal. The nearly 2,000-foot Wildseeloder north face was covered in 8 inches of fresh snow perfect for the action-packed contest on the long and demanding face. Riders had to negotiate a mix of deep powder, wind affected snow and hard layers. A fluid and fast line choice, executed with creativity and perfection, was key. Austrian freeride fans came out to the venue to cheer on their favorite athletes at front row, proving that in Austria there has always been Kitzbuhel for Alpine lovers but now there is Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal for freeride aficionados.
The battle has been tough all season as more than 80 athletes have had one thing in mind—to make it to the finals in Verbier. Only the top 12 men skiers, five men snowboarders, five women skiers and four women snowboarders qualify to the last and final competition. The competition at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal was their last chance for the 2013 season.
The male skiers demonstrated impressive speeds and solid riding on the difficult venue. Silas Chickering-Ayers found himself atop the podium for the first time this season at only 20-years-old scoring 81.33 points with an outstanding run. He perfectly landed two huge cliff jumps skiing fast in full control from top to bottom. Silas Chickering-Ayers took over the top step from his brother Lars, who won the previous stage in Kirkwood. Silas Chickering-Ayers was overwhelmed by his victory: "It's amazing. I would never have imagined winning among all these incredible athletes. After Lars' victory in Kirkwood this is pretty special. I'm glad we waited this week. We got some fun snow and got to ski a week in Fieberbrunn! The top of the venue was definitely variable and wind affected but once you got out of that the snow was great. It feels good to get your line just right and stomp it."
Despite his win, Silas Chickering-Ayers will not make the cut to the finals in Verbier, but recognizes he still needs more experience to take on the extremely challenging Bec des Rosses face.
Swedes Wille Lindberg and Reine Barkered once again made it on the podium with a very similar approach to the mountain. Barkered demonstrated his signature skiing style of no-hesitation at high speeds with big airs. Lindberg managed to knock his country mate out of second place with 80.67 points over Barkered's 79.0 points.
Austrian Nadine Wallner has been riding consistently all season and leading the overall standings prior to Fieberbrunn. She certainly was on fire in front of her home crowd taking the first win of the year at home turf. Skiing a strong line with an explosive style and good air, she placed herself on top scoring 75.0 points. With the win today, Wallner has widened the gap to be the second placed female skier overall and sits in a very good position for the title. "It was a perfect day for me in great conditions. I'm always satisfied when I can fulfill the line I have planned. The victory here in Fieberbrunn means a lot to me as I can hold on to the 'golden bib'! It's my first year on the FWT and I'm leading overall now, which is very motivating for Verbier," said Wallner.
Matilda Rapaport of Sweden had a sensational start on her first ever FWT competition. She skied an aggressive and clean line all the way to the finish line, with a score of 64.33 points and second place. Currently standing second on the Freeride World Qualifiers, she received a wild card invitation to the event. After an exciting win at Kirkwood, Jacklyn Paaso (USA) was the first rider out of the gate today and skied a fast, dynamic line on the untouched face, taking third place with 64.0 points.
Despite a seventh place finish today, Pia Nic Gundersen (NOR) is still second on the overall standings. Reigning Freeride World Champion Christine Hargin of Sweden was absent at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, after hurting her knee a few days prior to the event. She is still holding on to third place overall and hopes to make it to the finals in Verbier.
Full Results are here.