Today saw an interesting opening to the Freeride World Tour today in Hakuba, Japan. In the past, there has been criticism for a lack of reward for the riders who throw tricks in their runs, with judges favoring skiers going fast and straight. Today, however, it was the skiers throwing down in the air who reaped the rewards.

That, of course, meant that several guys who ripped down the face but didn't throw much in the way of tricks didn't score too well. Drew Tabke, Mickael Bimboes, and Aymar Navarro all fit into that category today. Mickael, in particular, had a lot of success last season charging unreasonably fast down faces. He did the same today and you could argue he deserved more today based on that history.

There were plenty of highlights on the day though, including Craig McMurray throwing a bonkers 7 up at the top of the venue and Kye Petersen one-upping that with a rare switch takeoff on the same feature (switch 5). But both socred less well in the bottom half of the venue. In fact, there was an area on the bottom of the venue, to the lookers right where both of those good runs, and others, seemed to go to die.

It was Markus Eder who set the bar early on and he held on to his lead throughout. His flat 3 off the top, into a huge three soon after, with both creative line choice and speed, ultimately earned him the win. Coming in hot to second place, SkiBoss (Tanner Hall) stomped a cork 3, a backie and an on-axis three, announcing himself as a serious contender on the tour (if for some reason you didn't already think he was). Highlight of the day for me for sure. Right at the death of the comp, Tom Pfieffer threw a smooth 3 into a beautiful sweeping left turn to a huge straight air transfer earning himself third spot and bumping Yu Sasaki, who had a smooth, creative line, down into fourth.

You can watch a full replay of all the runs here: some reason, the youtube replay seems to skip Tanner and a few more runs, those runs can be found from 01:40:54 in the following: