Archive for February, 2010

First podium at the Freeride World Tour

February 14, 2010

At the start of the winter, I was lucky enough to receive a wildcard for the 2nd – of a total of 4 – Freeride World Tour women’s stop, the SCOTT Big Mountain Fieberbrunn in Austria. The contest, also a 3-star Freeride World Qualifier for the men, took place yesterday in generally good weather conditions. The quality of the snow on the “Wildseeloder” face was good, however due to the lack of a good snow base, options were limited to 3 to 4 main lines. As many competitors discovered, there was often only a thin layer of snow on relatively rocky terrain.

Women's podium ski @ SCOTT Big Mountain Fieberbrunn

Female riders who chose a relatively easy line with good snow conditions, but able to ski fast and fluid, came out on top. Norway’s Ane Enderud, Freeride World Champion 2009, dominated with a fast line in the furthest couloir on the skiers right, incorporating several airs.  Sweden’s Janette Hargin also showed great skiing with no hesitation in a similar line, while I was placed 3rd by the judges for a fast and smooth line with one big air. New Zealand’s Janina Kuzma was close on my heels in 4th place with a well-skied, creative line she seemed happy with.

Excitement and nerves at the start of the race

Wille Lindberg dropping the same air as I did

Probably the most enjoyable competition run I have had to date...shredding the pow

In the men’s field, Austria’s Matthias “Hauni” Haunholder, a local of Fieberbrunn, and Switzerland’s Simon Andermatten, shared the podium with 2 quite different, but very impressive runs. Third place went to Austria’s Stefan Hofer, followed by my skiing buddy and fellow Austrian Stefan Häusl.

Lorraine podiums again at the Engadinsnow!

February 10, 2010

The Engadinsnow is undoubtedly one of the best freeride events in Europe, running for the 8th time this year. For me it was the first time I was to compete on the legendary Piz Corvatsch, a north face which instils respect in even the most seasoned riders. I was feeling nervous while waiting for the cable car to take us to the first pylon, from which we abseiled down to reach the top of the face.

The Piz Corvatsch north face of the Engadinsnow

The women were to start after the men, which gave us ample time to check our line from the start and watch some of the male skiers and snowboarders in action. I decided to go for a fast line with a small but exposed air on a ridge before dropping another small but fast air into a couloir. I exited the couloir at full speed, probably over-excited, and wasn’t able to hold myself together for the next turn, which resulted in a full somersault before I was back on my feet and heading towards my last air, which I stomped. Although I was disappointed about not staying on my feet, I was happy with the rest of the line, which I skied fluently and aggressively. First place went to my Girls Ski Movie filming buddy, Pia Widmesser, for a smooth and controlled line, while France’s Olivia Benoit skied into 2nd place with a very technical line in steep and exposed terrain. New Zealand’s Sam Smoothy stole the show in the male ski field with a fast and aggressive line including some difficult airs, followed by French men Mathieu Imbert and Thibauld Duchosal.

From left to right: 3rd Lorraine Huber, 1st Pia Widmesser, 2nd Olivia Benoit

Engadinsnow Winner Sam Smoothy. Yeah bro!!

Visit the Engadinsnow website for complete results as well as great heli and cable camera footage of each rider’s run.

3rd Place FWQ: Freeride de Flaine

February 10, 2010

After 2 days of filming in Lech Zürs with the girls for our Girls Ski Movie it was off to France again for a Freeride World Qualifier in Flaine, for which I was prequalified for the finals. A total of 10 female skiers and snowboarders were qualified for the finals. The finals venue offered numerous options and features to hit, but proved quite difficult to orientate in due to the characteristic rollers and convex shaped terrain, which makes finding take-offs challenging.

The finals venue at Flaine

A 1.5hr hike awaited competitors before their start for the Freeride de Flaine

Snow conditions were on our side with 50cm of fresh powder, very rare contest conditions indeed, but the initial blue bird skies clouded over around midday. As a result the women’s field was moved down to better light and started their run half way down the face. Unfortunately, I had a major bum check in my line but still managed to place 3rd after banking some nice pow turns and landing a double, as well as a nice air at the bottom of the line. Sweden’s Janette Hargin skied a fast and fluent line to the top of the podium and Australia’s Hanna Fisher cruised into 2nd place. The male field made the most of the great conditions, choosing huge air and often technical lines in order to impress the judges. French men Mickael Bimboes and Bertrand Clair placed 1st and 2nd respectively, while Finnland’s Joonas Karhumaa, telemarker extraordinaire, took out third.

1st Janette Hargin, 2nd Hanna Fisher, 3rd Lorraine Huber

Freeride World Tour Chamonix: 4th place

February 2, 2010

After an amazing day of fresh powder and fun cliff drops last Friday with my mates in St. Anton, I received a call saying I have a starting place at the Freeride World Tour in Chamonix. This is an amazing chance for me and exactly what I want: to compete alongside some of the best female big mountain skiers in the Freeride World Tour. Luckily, Saturday was inspection day so I had enough time to drive to the French mountaineering and skiing capital.

On Sunday I was the very last person to start which gave me a chance to watch the first male skiers and snowboarders on the day of the event. It had snowed 30 to 50 cm 2 days before, but before the snow fall the south facing aspects were known to have been very icy. The result was that the fresh snow was sliding off the hard old layer. Forerunner Martin Winkler skied from the top of start 2, the starting choice of the majority of the competitors, and triggered a soft slab avalanche coming into a steep flank. Only a sheet of ice was left. Although I knew snow conditions were variable and challenging, and after much debating with fellow competitor Jess McMillan who ranked 3rd in the FWT 2009, I decided to pull through with the original line I chose from starting gate 2. I skied my line fairly fluently considering the conditions. To be honest I was happy to have stayed on my feet and land the 2 cliffs I had planned. New Zealand’s Janina Kuzma and I had a very similar run but finally the judges decided the place Janina 3rd since she skied over more exposure than I did. Fellow Austrian skier Eva Walkner skied a fast line placing her in 2nd position, and the winner of the day in the end was Jess McMillan! Her decision to not shred the gnar, but shred the pow, payed off with an original line over some nice airs from starting gate 1. Overall the level of girls skiing was very strong.

Checking my line ©NISSAN FREERIDE DE CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC 2010 / T. REPO

©NISSAN FREERIDE DE CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC 2010 / D. DAHER

The competition in the male field was intense. In the end Candide Thovex, international freestyle legend, persuaded the judges with a super fast and fun line also from starting gate 1. Swedish Kaj Zackrisson is one of the veterans on the tour, and a Chamonix local since 10 years. The strong skier took second with an extremely powerful and consistent run, taking clean and big air. American rising star and newcomer Tim Dutton impressed the judges as he chose an original line down the face; creative, exposed and finding the good snow. My mate Stefan Häusl had the run of his life and came in 6th after some huge aggressive airs. The most consistent run among the snowboarders was Austrian Mitch Toelderer’s line, with an interesting line interpretation in the middle, steep section of the course, and taking two solid airs towards the end. Austria is looking pretty strong for this year’s Freeride World Tour!

Next stop for me are some Freeride World Qualifiers in Flaine, France and Engadin, Switzerland and then the Freeride World Tour in Fieberbrunn which is going to be amazing! Fieberbrunn has finally received some fresh snow and conditions there are good.

“Pentes de l’Hôtel” face at the Brévent ski area