A collection of skiers and snowboarders descended upon the sleepy British Columbian locale of Revelstoke this week for the first stop of the SWATCH Freeride World Tour by The North Face. After a brief weather delay earlier in the week, Friday marked the first day of competition for the newly unified global tour. Revelstoke Mountain Resort served as host to the tour offering up its “Mac Daddy Face” as the exclusive venue for the competition.
When the snowstorms finally broke, the clouds finally cleared to reveal a magnificent view of Revelstoke's epic peaks. By 10am, the competition was set to begin, and the athletes were ready to rip up the course underneath gorgeous blue bird skies. Viewers at home were able to tune-in live via the FWT's video stream, and were treated to a first row seat to the epic big mountain action!
Defending champion Ralph Backstrom led the first round of competition with a score of 89.33. The Squaw Valley snowboarder was followed by Frenchman Ludovic Guillot-Diat in second place with a 79.33 and fellow countryman Aurelien Routens with a 74.33.
After the competition Backstrom reflected upon the day's competition, saying, “I was a little nervous we wouldn’t have good light conditions after the past few days but was so excited to have bluebird skies.” “The super steep pitch of Mac Daddy makes it difficult not to go over the handle bars when landing jumps. I really like the big features that exist on this terrain.”
Once the first round of snowboarders finished, it was time for the men's skiing division to take their turns. Drew Tabke, who hails from Crystal Mountain, Washington captured first place with an impressive score of 91.00. Tabke is no stranger to the Revelstoke podium, having captured second and third place in the past, but this year — he's in the top spot! Switzerland's Jeremie Heitz followed in second place with a distant score of 79.67, and Julien Lopez of France who earned a 73.00.
Tabke spoke of the challenge and beauty of the Ca
nadian venue, exclaiming, “Mac Daddy is the most beautiful mountain we get to ski on the tour and the snow in British Columbia is amazing.” “Some challenging conditions existed on the venue due to slides, but my line had great snow.” The Revelstoke champion went on to reveal that he is setting his sights on the overall 2013 Freeride World Tour title this season, explaining, “The title means more than ever before, but mostly, I want to have fun skiing with all of these incredible athletes from around the world.”
The women's ski and snowboard divisions took center stage in the afternoon. Despite low light and challenging visibility, “Mac Daddy” still had ample snow coverage and terrain available. Snowbird, Utah's very own Shannan Yates led the snowboarders with a run that earned her 63.33. She was followed by Margot Rozies of France who scored a 58.00 and Elodie Mouthon also from France who rounded out the podium with a 54.67.
“This is the steepest venue the female snowboarders have yet to face,” said Yates. “The top of the run was variable and icy making it hard to go fast, but I managed to ride my line and land both airs.”
The women's skiing group were the final athletes to takes their runs on the venue. At this point, visibility became extremely difficult, and the course snow was starting to show some serious wear and tear. Although the conditions were less than optimal, defending 2012 Overall SWATCH Freeride World Tour Women’s Ski Champion, Christine Hargin of Austria maintained her prowess in the tour with a 65.00 score to win the day. Nadine Walker of Austria who scored 58.00 for a second place finish, and Natalie Segal of Australia who took third place with a 55.33 followed her.
All in all, it was an extremely successful day for the debut event of the 2013 SWATCH Freeride World Tour. Perfect weather, great venue conditions and amazing athlete performance highlighted the day of big mountain fun.
“It is difficult to describe what a momentous accomplishment today’s event was for the riders and sport of freeriding,” said FWT Americas Event Director Bryan Barlow. “Today officially marked the unification of the Freeride World Tour. We have set the bar very high here at Revelstoke and I look forward to watching the season unfold.”