Replay of live webcast is above. Here are official results from Xtreme Verbier:
1. Reine Barkered (SWE)
2. Ian Borgeson (USA)
3. Loic Collomb-Patton (FRA)
1. Pic Nic Gunderson (NOR)
2. Nadine Wallner (AUT)
3. Jackie Paaso (USA)
Final 2014 FWT Overall Standings:
1. Loic Collomb-Patton (FRA) World Champion
2. Sam Smoothy (NZL)
3. Jeremie Heitz (SUI)
1. Nadine Wallner (AUT) World Champion
2. Lorraine Huber (AUT)
3. Pia Nic Gunderson (NOR)
For more photos, video, and info from the 2014 Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face, go here.
When Candide Thovex tells you to ski carefully, it’s probably a good idea to listen.
Heading into tomorrow’s Xtreme Verbier finals for the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face, Frenchman Loic Collomb-Patton leads the overall standings for the men, comfortably ahead of Kiwi Sam Smoothy and Switzerland’s Jeremie Heitz. In fact, the FWT broke out the calculator and analyzed who stands the best chance of becoming the next world champ. The calculations proved Collomb-Patton has the advantage after winning the first two comps of the season.
But when it came time for the 27-year-old Collomb-Patton to seek advice on Verbier’s legendary Bec de Rosses venue since it’ll his first time on the intimidating face, he looked no further than fellow La Clusaz native and former FWT champion Candide Thovex for help. “Candide told me, ‘Hey, the Bec is not the same as elsewhere. It's really steep and there's tons of pressure at the top. Be careful,'” said the shaggy-haired Collomb Patton, who used to compete in X Games pipe contests before blowing out his knee in 2007. After struggling to finish in the top 10 in various pipe comps post-knee injury, he focused his skiing on the big-mountain arena, finishing fourth last year on the FWQ in his inaugural season competing. Now, he stands be the chance to stand atop the overall podium. “My goal is to survive,” he said of his first Bec experience.
Undoubtedly, with the Verbier season snowpack half of normal and the menacing face looking even meaner with rock-pepper seemingly everywhere, survival is the name of the game. Fellow FWT competitors Lars and Silas Chickering Ayers, Ian Borgeson, and Reine Barkered could be heard echoing the same sentiment. So what’s it gonna take to claim the top spot on the most famous big mountain comp face in the world, in addition to unseating Collomb-Patton from the top?
Judging by the conditions, it’s doubtful many of the male skiers will be tricking off the top cliffs with so much exposure and hard snow below them. So much like Lars Chickering-Ayers’ and Heitz’s runs from the Snowbird stop, speed and aggressiveness will factor into the winning run. In that case, look for Barkered, Heitz, and Switzerland’s Samuel Athamatten to lead the charge, with the elder Chickering-Ayers going for broke as well. Wild card entrant and 2013 Bec winner Kevin Guri has to be considered a contender as well, while 2013 FWT world champ Drew Tabke, who finished outside the top 12 and was granted a wild card for the Bec, and Frenchman Julien Lopez have considerable experience on the face. As does another Frenchman, wild card entrant and former Aurelian Ducroz, who has been busy as of late sailing from Portugal to Brazil as a professional sailor.
Ultimately, if Collomb-Patton can channel Candide and just hang on for a good finish, then it’s his to lose. But Smoothy is not too far out and the Kiwi seemed loose this week in Verbier, which might spell success come tomorrow morning.
As for the ladies, they don’t start from the top of the Bec but rather off to looker’s right, splitting the regular face in half. It’s a bit dissapointing that the best of the best ladies don’t run their finals on the main face. But exposure is quite real on the Bec, so any mistake could be fatally serious.
Austrian Nadine Wallner looks to repeat as world champion, sitting in first place ahead of fellow countrywoman Lorraine Huber, Sweden’s Matilda Rapaport, and Squaw Valley’s Jackie Paaso. But if you watched the Snowbird comp earlier this month, no other woman on tour is skiing as fast as Huber. The Austrian, who spends half her time living in Australia, can win the overall if she wins on the Bec.
Be sure to tune-in to Powder.com at 8:30 a.m. CET (that’s 12:30 a.m. PST) tomorrow to watch live webcast of the Xtreme Verbier finals. The order goes snowboard women, ski women, snowboard men, ski men.