After a week of snow, and almost no visibility on venue inspection day, it broke blue for the Revelstoke stop of the Freeride World Tour on Friday, January 11th. The Mac Daddy Face was sluffy, variable, and steep. It proved why FWT Europe General Manager Nicolas Hale-Wood calls it the perfect venue for the event.
Fast and fluid was the name of the game for the men's field. The top finishers all skied towards the steeper, skier's right side of the venue, instead of the more playful, trick friendly left side. Drew Tabke, who won for the third time in his nine-year career, launched three big airs in quick succession, earning him a 91, and a more than 10-point lead over then next skier on the podium, Jeremie Heitz. Heitz flashed the top face, then hit two big airs, working off the aggressive line that Adrien Coirier skied last year. "I like to ski strong, so it was a good line for me, I felt good," said Heitz. Julien Lopez rounded out the podium for men.
Many of the athletes who were expected to do well fell or bobbled on their runs. The 2012 Freeride World Tour Champion Reine Barkered took a fall--as he did in qualifiers at Revelstoke last year--as did Aurelian Ducroz, who many people have picked to be the eventual tour winner. Local Rylan Kappler, the only Revelstoke skier in the comp, fell hard and lost a ski on a big air.
Conditions were variable and got significantly tougher as the day went on, but the men still managed to put down some impressive skiing. Johnny Collinson nailed a huge 360 off the bottom cliff of the right line and Frenchman 39-year-old Seb Michaud threw two big backflips, winning the unofficial Rad Old Guy Award.
By the time the women skied in the afternoon the sun had shifted, the Mac Daddy was shaded and crunchy, and most of the marquee lines were skied off and bomb holed. Many of the women fell. Some, like Sonja Lercher and Anne May Slinning, in highly exposed areas. The skiers who were able to keep to their feet did well, even if they skied slightly more conservative lines.
Defending Freeride World Champion Christine Hargin won with an aggressive line down the gut of the face. Hargin, who hadn't skied Revelstoke before, said she was surprised by how serious the terrain was. "It's steeper and more difficult than I believed," she said. "It's really a challenging venue."
Crystal Wright skied the same line and took a tumble after launching a big air in the middle of the venue. "It set up really hard when we lost the sun and it was all bombed out," she says. "I landed with one foot in a bomb hole and couldn't hold on, but I wouldn't have wanted to ski any other line."
Austria's Nadine Wallner finished second, and Australia's Natalie Segal was third. They both skied the slightly more playful lines on the skier's left side of the face, but conditions were still challenging. "It was really scary," Segal says. "The only fun part was my air."
After a weeklong build up, and a lot of snow, the skiing was impressive, and, despite a few close calls and long slides, no one got hurt. "I think this just was what we needed to kick off the next chapter of this sport," said Freeride World Tour Americas Event Director Brian Barlow. "Everyone is happy and exhausted."
The Freeride World Tour moves to Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc, Italy, January 19th for the next stop. Stay turned for all your FWT news here.