Freeride World Tour 2022: Event Four - Highlights in Skiing
From tomahawking to high-speed sends, Ski Expert Mike Dobson covers the action-packed beginning of the FWT finals in Fieberbrunn, Austria.
Questionable snow conditions and a variable snowpack depth across the Wildseeloader face were on full display in Fieberbrunn this year. Many of the lines skier’s right of Start One simply didn’t have the coverage to really be in play, and the large lower chute feature at the bottom—which usually sees lots of action and offers playful low and high-speed options—was largely avoided and proved to be the downfall for the few riders who dared to tangle with it. Despite the shallow and low-quality snow conditions narrowing the potential of the terrain, along with dense cloud coverage causing a lengthy weather hold, the competition in Fieberbrunn was an action-packed beginning to the finals.
Having the option of two runs on the face proved to be a game-changer for many of the competitors. These riders were able to take full advantage of the new format, sussing out the conditions on their first runs in order to maximize the potential of their lines on the second and snag the highest possible score.
Women’s Ski Highlights
Coming into the finals at the top of the rankings, Jess has had a stellar season and clearly carried that confidence into Fieberbrunn. Jess opted for Start One skier’s right on the top of the Wildseeloader face. She dropped into the rocky terrain, making several quick turns, then traversed far over to the skier's left to line up a big drop off the Hausl cliff. Jess carried some serious speed out of her air and carved hard to the skier’s left, grabbing another air off a wind lip. She continued to work to the skier's left and found two additional smaller cliffs to air. Jess made some beautiful large arcing turns and worked her way back towards the center of the venue, lining up a final air into the bottom of the large chute, finding transition, and running out to the finish. Her first run scored an 88.67 and carried her to another win.
Jess opted to take a similar line on her second run but got caught up in the ruts and bomb holes from the countless other skiers who ended up hitting that same feature throughout the day. This resulted in one of the most intense tomahawks of the season, sending her head over heels, over and over, for at least 100ft. Luckily it seems like she’s okay and emerged relatively injury-free. Check out her Instagram for a slow-mo, first-person view of her crazy tumble.
Hedvig was one of the riders, many of whom are veterans on the tour, that were able to take advantage of the new format and score big on their second run. Hedvig’s first run featured a beautiful take on the Hausl cliff, making several quick turns during her setup to send a cascade of sluff down alongside her as she was soaring through the air. It was truly a sight to behold and a perfect example of the technical prowess that Hedvig brings to the table. Unfortunately, the rest of her first run was quite lackluster. She attempted the skier's right side of the large lower chute and was significantly hampered by the terrible snow conditions she found.
Hedvig’s second run began from Start Two. She came charging out of the gate, tweaking a quick air near the ridgeline, and headed straight for the Hausl cliff. Hedvig stayed to the skier’s left on the cliff band and dropped from a higher position, resulting in a much larger air that also enabled her to avoid the majority of the bomb holes from the day's traffic. She came flying out her air, remaining in control and looking smooth as she worked towards the skier’s left. Hedvig aired off a wind lip with a safety grab and found two additional straight airs in the softer snow skier's left of the venue. She was able to squeeze one more small air near the bottom and charged hard to the finish. Hedvig’s second run scored an 80.33 and nabbed her a second-place spot on the podium.
Like Hedvig, Gerritzen relied on her second run to carry her to a podium finish. Her first run started off strong out of Gate Two, with a styled-out shifty off a near ridgeline wind lip and a high-speed send off the Hausl cliff. However, the rest of her first run just didn’t add up. Elisabeth missed several features and eventually opted to charge full-speed to the finish.
Her second run also began from Start Two and featured a stylish shifty near the ridgeline. This time around though, Elisabeth stayed further towards the skier's left and hit the Hausl cliff, similarly to Hedvig, to avoid the bombed-out landings in the center. As she worked towards the skier’s left again, she found some nice air off a wind lip and threw another nice shifty. Gerritzen was able to find three additional smaller airs this time around before she charged hard into the finish. Her second run scored a 79, enough for third place and close behind Hedvig.
Men’s Ski Highlights
Max was a wildcard addition to Fieberbrunn, along with freestyle wunderkind Finn Bilous. After taking the Freeride World Qualifiers finals by storm, Max earned himself a spot on the FWT for next season, and due to finalist Craig Murray fracturing his sternum, they decided to give Max a wildcard spot in the 2022 finals.
The 19-year-old Austrian showed up with something to prove and put down a high octane run on his first go. Max dropped in from Start Two and headed right for a chute skier’s left of the popular Hausl cliff. He made short work of the top of the chute and aired off a spine feature on the skier’s right, hucking a huge right cork 360 down into the landing of the Hausl. He worked his way towards skier’s left of the venue, catching air off a wind lip, and throwing another right cork 360. Max quickly lined up a cliff feature to follow and threw a picturesque backflip. To close out his run, Max was able to line up two additional moderate-sized airs before speeding away to the finish. His run scored a 93.33, and although his second run was cut short by his ski spontaneously popping off, his first run was enough to snag first place on the day.
Carl’s first run scored well with an 89 and featured a perfect flatspin 360 with a Japan grab, but after getting knocked off the top of the podium by Max Hitzig soon after, Carl clearly needed to up the ante his second time around.
For his second run, Eriksson dropped from the first start gate and took a nearly identical line to his countrymate Kristofer Turdell who had completed his second run just prior. Eriksson traversed just under the ridgeline, charging towards the Hausl cliff. He grabbed a quick air into the setup, made a quick turn, and aired off the skier’s left of the Hausl at full speed. He blasted through the runout to the skier’s left and landed a small but smooth left cork 3 off a wind lip. Eriksson continued to flow smoothly down the skier’s left side, finding a moderate-sized cliff and hucking a backflip. He landed a bit backseat but quickly regained control in time to line up an additional air and land another left 360 before charging off to the finish. Eriksson’s second run scored a 92.67 and landed him in second place.
Leo has spent his 2022 season flying under the radar. He’s a former FWT champ and is no stranger to the podium, but after having his ACL repaired last season, he seemed to be taking it relatively easy, playing things safe, and barely found himself on the right side of the cut for finals. Fieberbrunn seemed to change all that though.
Leo’s first run served as a setup run, scoring an 83.33. He threw two 360s and a backflip but there was plenty of room to smooth out the edges. Leo’s second run began from Start One and found him catching a small air from the ridgeline and heading towards the Hausl. Like many other riders in the afternoon, Leo opted for the larger skier’s left side of the Hausl in search of a better landing. Leo found one and came charging out of the runout zone heading for the skier’s left side of the venue and floated a nice left 360 of a wind lip. He made several turns around some rocky terrain to his left and aired a backflip off the same cliff as Carl and Max. Leo worked his way fast and smooth over to the center of the venue and opted to work some terrain features on the skier’s right of the large lower chute. Other riders had a lot of difficulty in the subpar snow in this area, but Leo seemed to handle it with ease, finding two additional airs and squeezing in a backflip off one of the features. Leo’s second run was just shy of Carl Regner Eriksson's, scoring a 92.33, enough for third place on the day.
Women’s Top Three Rankings:
- Jessica Hotter
- Hedvig Wessel
- Lily Bradley
Men’s Top Three Rankings:
- Maxime Chabloz
- Carl Regner Eriksson
- Kristofer Turdell
Many of the rider highlights from the day just didn’t equate to winning scores. Whether it was Ross Tester going huge and throwing a cork 360 off the Hausl only to get caught up in bad snow and fall on his side in the bottom chute. Or Abel Moga, Aymar’s protege, being the only one to send the absolutely massive Eagle cliff on the skier’s right and tomahawking violently.
We are three weeks into March, and the gear sales continue with items selling out left and right. Don’t wait ‘til the last minute and miss out on all the best deals of the season. Reach out to one of Curated’s Ski Experts like myself and let us help you find the best gear so you can aim for some airs yourself!