On Freeride World Tour in Chamonix, Jess McMillan unbeatable

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 1, 2010 8:53 am

There was no way, no line to pass American Marker Voelkl team rider Jess McMillan in Chamonix: At this year’s first contest of the Freeride World Tour (FWT) last weekend the US freerider finished first and repeated her victory from last years beginning of the FWT in Sochi, albeit at another spot. It was the kick-off to the new contest winter and it was a really good one for Jess McMillan. “I’m so freakin’ stoked! I skied powder today and WON the Freeride de Chamonix,“ she posted on Facebook after her success in the French alps at Chamonix. In fact, conditions were not as easy as the 28-year-old freerider described them. The face, where the contest was held, had earned some fresh snow the days before and those parts were a pleasure to ride. But at the same time there were loads of spots in the face that were rock-hard and icy, so the ”Pentes de l‘Hôtel“ face in the Brévent ski area also showed his cruel aspects.

Nevertheless, the nice American skied a gorgeous run, which made it impossible for her opponents to beat her. Doing an enormous cliff drop in a very fast run and adding some more smaller but also spectacular jumps, Jess set the benchmark with no one able to keep up with her for the first victory on the FWT 2010. Just like the year before, when Jess finished first in Sochi, last season’s kick-off for the Freeride World Tour. And even if places like Chamonix or Sochi can’t be replaced, as they are either deeply rooted in the freeski scene or in the focus of the pre-olympic preparations: freerider Jess McMillan knows well about her successful starts into the contest season there. At the end of last season, Jess finished third in the overall ranking. The signs for a successful repeat of this overall podium result are looking pretty good.

Finishing amongst the top three, too, Jess’ team mate Janina Kuzma was the second Marker Voelkl freeskier on the podium. Janina ranked seventh overall in last year’s Freeride World Tour ranking, her third place in Chamonix was the first Tour-podium for the Kiwi. No matter if freeride or big mountain contests, you will have to deal with the Marker Voelkl freeski family on the Freeride World Tour this year for sure.

She has experienced only four years of contests as a freerider. It would have taken anybody else a lifetime what Jess McMillan has reached within these four years. The overview over her successful career starts in 2006. The now 28-year-old American started her freeriding career after finishing college. As a child and teenaged ski racer Jess had dreamed of the Olympics, then she worked as a ski coach after ending up with her educational years and finally fell in love with freeriding, which means almost everything to her right now. At her first contest she finished sixth, at the end of that winter she was already Vice-Worldchampion of the IFSA and ranked second on the IFSA World Tour. The year after Jess earned the title at the US Nationals and she was crowned IFSA World Tour champion. In 2008 alone, she stood on the podium six times. Not at any small, immature contests – it was the Freeskiing World Tour Championships again, the US National Championships and the Freeride World Tour. The latter she finished second overall in the end. Now, you wanna know what 2009 was like? Well, the same! During summer, Jess McMillan loves to spend a lot of time with her husband in a kayak on the wildwater. He is a kayak professional who teached Jess to jump water falls even when they are 30 feet and taller.

Looking for a versatile female skier? Then you have to keep your eyes and ears focused on Janina Kuzma. The Australian is one of the most versatile female riders of our planet. This year, she won the NZ Freeski Open in the halfpipe as well as in the Big Mountain category. The latter one for the fifth time in a row this year. And all this did not come suddenly or as surprise, as the 24-year-old has already succeeded at the Canadian National Championships and won the Engadin Snow in 2009. At last year’s Freeride World Tour Janina ranked seventh at the end of the season. Among other reasons, her top rankings can be ascribed to the fact that Janina is one of the few people who spends the whole year on her skis. Not just flying to the winter hemisphere for a training period. Depending on what time of the year, she either lives in her adopted home city Wanaka in New Zealand, in Fernie in British Columbia or she is travelling around any mountain region of the northern hemisphere. It was also the northern half of the planet, where it all started for the likeable live wire: she learned skiing at the age of five in Austria and this was the cornerstone for a very successful freeriding career. Whilst her twin sister changed to snowboarding in the meantime, Janina’s biggest goal is still on two boards: the title of the Freeride World champion.