Photo by D. Carlier
The Nissan Tram Face was the much anticipated third stop of this year’s Freeride World Tour. As the contest was scheduled for the legendary tram face in Squaw Valley, even big mountain heroine Ingrid Backstrom, a Squaw Valley local, decided to enter the starting field. The veteran member of the Marker Völkl Freeski Team had redefined women’s big mountain skiing with outstanding movie segments in recent years, but had not competed since long. Her fellow competitors included reigning FWT champion Ane Enderud, American Jess McMillan, also from the Marker Völkl Team and FWT champion in 2008, and of course the Freeride World Tour leaders after two events, Eva Walkner from Austria and Janette Hargin from Sweden.
Squaw Valley greeted the world’s best freeriders with great snow conditions, but unfortunately the contest couldn’t be held at the tram face due to an avalanche prior to the event. Instead the competitors had two runs in the Silverado bowl, the better of which counted for the results. Local skier Jaclyn Paaso took an early lead in the women’s field with a massive cliff drop that rivaled even the men’s. Ane Enderud showed a very solid run for a second place after the first round in front of another Californian, Elyse Saugstad. In the second heat, Ingrid Backstrom stepped up her game, although the terrain seemed too tame for her standards. A fast line with good airs got her in front of Elyse Saugstad, however, for a third place in the final results. Ane Enderud showed another very fluent run, but it was not enough to pass Jaclyn Paaso’s big drop. In the end it was the second place for the Norwegian behind the young American. Jess McMillan and Janina Kuzma in fifth and sixth position rounded out another great effort of the Marker Völkl Freeski Team.
The Freeride World Tour culminates with the final event, the Nissan Xtreme de Verbier, in two weeks. The women’s field at the legendary Bec de Rosses will consist of three wild cards and the three tour leaders after three events. Thus, Ane Enderud as second and Jess McMillan as third of the current standings have already secured a coveted starting spot. Current tour leader is Jaclyn Paaso following her win in Squaw Valley. However, with only three out of four event results counting for the overall rankings and following her miss of the first event in Chamonix due to injury, Ane Enderud is in the pole position with a first- and second-place-finish so far. A second place in Verbier will ensure her to defend the FWT overall title. What a convenient perspective for the reigning Verbier Xtreme champion!