Freeride World Tour 2022: Event Three - Highlights in Skiing
The venue might have changed for Stop Three, but the skiing was as good as ever. Get the full rundown with Ski Expert Mike Dobson as he covers the Freeride World Tour.
The third stop at Kicking Horse carried on in true 2022 fashion, bucking tradition and forcing the athletes and event-holders alike to adapt on the fly and embrace change. The day before the event was set to kick-off, the Ozone Face experienced an extreme wind event that absolutely scoured the zone and caused damage to the FWT start gates. The wind-pressed snow in Ozone made for difficult and potentially dangerous conditions, especially for freeriding, and the athletes were genuinely concerned for their safety.
Luckily, the organizers, along with Kicking Horse Resort, were able to work together to completely shift the competition to a different venue—all within 18 hours. They settled on Kicking Horse’s T1 South in the Super Bowl (rather serendipitous, given the weekend) which features an east/south-east aspect that was generally shielded from the day's previous weather event. Despite all the drama leading up to the event, the athletes threw down in a major way and had an incredible showing for the locals and the fans at home.
Women’s Ski Highlights
Lily got things started for the women’s ski side, coming into Kicking Horse tied for fifth place overall after a strong third-place finish in Andorra brought her onto the right side of qualifying for the finals. The FWT rookie started her run heading skier’s left, immediately lining up a nice air, remaining in tight control, and dropping a second larger cliff to a very flat landing. Lily handled it with ease, linked several turns, shed some speed, and lined up a third air near the center of the venue. This third air sent her charging down the face, but she remained in tight control and was able to hit a fourth feature and throw in a quick safety grab for good measure. Lily continued to charge down the venue towards the finish, popping off some moguls and showcasing her aggressive yet playful style. Lily’s run earned her an 80.67, snagging her a first-place finish on the day, second place in the overall standings, and guaranteeing her a spot in the finals.
The reigning FWT champ was able to snag a second-place finish in Andorra, bringing her back into contention for the finals after her disappointing start to the season. At fourth in the overall standings, her place in Fieberbrunn wasn’t guaranteed and she needed a strong showing at Kicking Horse to secure her spot. Elisabeth opted for the less-frequented Start Zone Twp down the ridge to the skier’s left. As she started her run, she worked further left, dropping off the ridge, remaining in tight control, and lining up an additional small air just below. She carried some serious speed out of her second air, carved hard skier’s left, and quickly lined up an additional air off a small mound. After her third air, Elisabeth really opened things up, charging down the remainder of the venue and grabbing a fourth air at speed. Her run scored a 71.67, just enough for fifth place on the day and fifth place in the overall standings—sending her to the finals in Fieberbrunn.
Olivia has had a stellar season so far and came into Kicking Horse ranked second in the overall standings. With a spot in the finals already secured, Olivia had the option to play things safe with a conservative run, but that’s just not her style. Her run ended up being an excellent showcase of her skill and confidence in technical terrain along with a signature big air. Olivia came out skier’s right from Start One into the steep rocky terrain below, showing off her jump turns. She made quick work of the technical terrain and grabbed some air off a rock feature above the first major bench on the face. Olivia then worked further to the skier’s right along the bench and lined up a larger-sized drop off the cliff band below. She came charging out her air, carving hard skier’s left. Olivia linked several big turns and lined up two smaller airs to close out her run. Her run scored a 77, nabbing a third-place finish on the day and tieing with Lily Bradley for second in the overall standings.
Sybille is another rookie on the tour this season, and prior to Kicking Horse, she was sitting just below the cut in seventh overall. Her run began from Start One like many of her fellow riders and found her airing off the ridge almost immediately skier’s left of the start gate. Sybille came charging out of her first air and nearly lost control as she approached the cliff band immediately below. She was able to recover quickly and carved to the skier’s right, remaining in control. Sybille linked several turns and lined up another decent-sized air off a cliff feature near the center of the venue. She was able to grab two additional smaller airs lower down and squeezed a quick safety grab in on the second. Sybille’s run scored a 73.67, enough for a fourth-place finish on the day which bumped her up above the cut for finals into sixth overall.
Hotter was the first out of the gate for Andorra, but this time around for Kicking Horse, she closed out the competition for the women’s ski side. Jess grabbed a similar air to Sybille off the ridge to the skier’s left of Start One. She remained in tight control and lined up a big air off the skier’s left of the cliff band directly below. Jess came flying out of her air and seemed to get pitched over the tips of her skis but quickly found her balance in the sweet spot and linked some wide turns to control her speed. She grabbed a small air, made some additional turns working skier’s right, and found a decent air off a smaller rock feature where she showed off a beautiful Japan grab and rode out towards the finish. Jess scored a 78.33, grabbed second place on the day, and finished first overall in the standings heading into Fieberbrunn.
Men’s Ski Highlights
Pollard was the first rider for the men’s ski side at Kicking Horse and set things off with his signature fast and fluid style. Pollard came charging out of the gate and stomped two moderate-sized airs in quick succession, linked two turns to check his speed, and lined up a cross-court air with a tweaked high safety grab. Pollard stomped with ease and worked his way back skiers left, hitting a small windlip and throwing a smooth left 360. He continued to charge hard down his line, popping over a small rock outcropping, and riding out to the finish. His opening run scored well with an 87, but with all the intense competition to follow, it was only enough to grab fifth place on the day.
Turdell had a string of disappointing finishes to start the season and needed a podium finish in Kicking Horse for a chance at qualifying for Fieberbrunn. In classic Turdell fashion, he went absolutely massive and demonstrated why he is the reigning FWT champ. He came out of the gate charging hard with zero hesitation, quickly lining up a moderate-sized cliff to air off and gaped a large flat to catch transition. Turdell linked two big turns to shed a bit of speed, headed skier’s left, and sent a cross-court air off a windlip, hucking a massive backflip. He stomped it perfectly and continued to head full speed to the skier’s left towards some technical treed terrain peppered with rock outcroppings above a set of large cliffs. Turdell made short work of the technical terrain above the cliff band and pointed it off the nose for big air to close out his run. He was greeted at the bottom with a massive hug from an exuberant Andrew Pollard and a 93.33. As impressive as this run and score was, Turdell ended up in third at the end of the day.
If you’ve been following along with the tour so far, you’re probably more than familiar with the name Max Palm. The rookie phenom landed the first double backflip in tour history in his very first run on the FWT. At Kicking Horse, he brought the heat once again. Max opted to take his run from the 2nd start zone on the far skier’s left of the ridge and began his run fairly relaxed with two small airs to get things started. He worked skier’s left, carrying speed, and caught a large cross-court air identical to the one that Abel Moga over-rotated a backflip off of earlier. Max opted for the double once again and put it to his feet with complete composure. He continued to work skier’s left to the cliffy section that Turdell hit earlier, quickly worked through some small rock outcroppings, and aired off the nose of the same cliff. Max’s run scored a 95.33. An impressive run but still only good enough for second place.
Maxime scored a huge first-place finish in Andorra that knocked him into first place in the overall rankings and a guaranteed spot in Fieberbrunn. Maxime used his run to pad his lead ever further, putting forth a freestyle-dense run that pushed the limits of what the main lines of the T1 South face had to offer. After working down the ridge to skier’s left of Start One, Maxime sent a cross-court air off a decent-sized rock outcropping and threw a big left cork 360 with a safety grab landing in the last bit of transition and ran out through some soft moguls. Maxime continued his way skier’s left, making two hard turns to check his speed, and hitting the same big cross-court air that Turdell had backflipped earlier. Maxime opted for a clean left cork 720. In the run-out, he speed-checked once and threw an additional left 360 off a small windlip. Maxime worked back skier’s right around a stand of trees to find a large spined-up windlip and hucked a massive backflip, landing and running out through an additional set of trees. As he headed towards the finish, he playfully popped to switch and rode out into the corral. Maxime’s run took first with a 97, sending him to the finals with two first-place wins already under his belt.
After an action-packed first three stops, the top two scores from each athlete have been calculated, and here is who’ll be heading to the finals for the skiers:
- Jessica Hotter
- Lily Bradley
- Olivia McNeil
- Hedvig Wessel
- Elisabeth Gerritzen
- Sybille Blanjean
- Maxime Chabloz
- Max Palm
- Andrew Pollard
- Kristofer Turdell
- Carl Regner Eriksson
- Abel Moga
- Ross Tester
- Jamesa Hampton
- Craig Murray
- Leo Slemmet
- Jack Nichols
Keep following along as we move to Stop Four. In the lead-up to Fieberbrunn, I’ll be giving a rundown of the new format, and in the meantime, keep an eye out for our behind-the-scenes look at the gear of some of your favorite riders. Make sure to check out how the snowboarders performed and go to Freeride World Tour to subscribe to their YouTube channel to stay up to date with all the action.
Snow is finally returning to the west! Get your trips planned and make sure you have your gear dialed in before it’s too late. Reach out to a Curated Ski Expert, like me, and we’ll help you find all the tools you need to get the most out of the rest of your 2021/22 season.