The festival of Freeride has come to an end after a week of being at the mercy of the mountain gods. Massive snowfalls and challenging weather meant that the final showcase 3* event sadly could not be completed in full. But for those not lucky enough to make it onto the podium, memories of epic faceshots in Mons neckwarmers will be enough to tide them over until the next year.
Anna Smoothy checks in with her final Dispatch for the week. Cover Image: www.thomasbecker.com
The Verbier Freeride Week 3* competition was unable to be completed for all categories but Snowboard Women due to inclement weather. Organisers made the best of the situation, seizing on passing moments of clarity to send Riders that were half frozen awaiting their fate at the top of the venue. A definite step up from the playful Bruson 2* venue, the 3* was held in Verbier’s Cathedral. This face gave competitors the opportunity to get gnarly with some mega features. Although particularly inconvenient, the storm did deposit a crazy amount of champagne powder making for soft landings for those who were able to compete.
Snowboard Women were the only category that was able to be completed in full. Photo: Anna Smoothy
Most of Team Kiwi (Sam Lee, Fraser McDougall & Hank Bilous) had early bib numbers and so were able to lay down their comp runs. Amusingly, all three came unstuck as the ridiculous amounts of snow meant that they were encased in a white room from top to bottom. Their crashes were inconsequential for the most part, although Sam Lee had to finish his run on one leg and retrieve his evasive ski from a rocky shelf after the competition.
Hank Bilous gets some last-minute advice from judge extraordinaire Dion Newport. Photo: Anna Smoothy
Taking the FWQ’s Snowboard Women category by storm was France’s Marion Haerty. After winning her first ever FWQ event (Verbier 2*), Haerty then went on to secure a hat-trick of wins and champion the Verbier Freeride Week. Hailing from a solid freestyle background, Marion caught the attention of judges with smooth manoeuvres in the 2*’s such as 180 butters and revert 180’s off cliff drops. This sort of tom-foolery has not previously been observed in Women’s snowboarding on the Freeride World Tour arena – let alone the FWQ.
Marion Haerty smashed through any reservations regarding her ability to step it up in the bigger venue on Saturday. She dropped in on a huge cliff straight out of the start gate and straight-lined her way to the finish picking off a handful of other features with no hesitation but a whole lot of sass.
2016 FWT Wildcard winner Marion Haerty. Photo: Anna Smoothy
Blown away by the control, power and tenacity of this snowboarding vixen, Berti Denervaud has awarded Haerty a wild card for the 2016 Freeride World Tour beginning this week in Andorra.
“We didn’t need to fill this space on the FWT, but when you see a display of riding like this and realise that it could change the sport – you need to invite her.”
Full results can be found on the Freeride World Qualifier website, and stay tuned for the first stop of the Freeride World Tour 2016 which is all set to rock Vallnord Arcalis from Jan 23rd – 27th