Matthias Haunholder unbeatable at the Grand Balme

The proud Austrian finished first beating all the favorites at the Grand Balme in Tignes/France during the Freeride World Tour stop and is currently second place in the Freeride World Ranking with only one stop to come.

Not even a year passed by since Matthias Haunholder made his way through the qualifying series of the Freeride World Tour. Since yesterday the man from Walchsee in Austria finally changed roles. He is no longer just a winner of a qualifing event, but finds himself right in the middle of the who is who in the international freeriding scene. Showing a nearly perfect run he won the Freeride de Tignes just ahead of Frenchman Thomas Diet and last yearʼs World Champion Henrik Windstedt from Sweden, showing that the ATOMIC Freeskiing Team can also dominate in freeriding competitions. This was Matthiasʼ first number one ranking on the Freeride World Tour.

The first stages of the Freeride World Tour gave him the confidence that allowed him to win in Tignes. the 29-year-old said after his success at the third and last stop before the finals in Verbier. “I spent a lot of time looking at the Grand Balme face, even until late last night. I knew I had to be brave to make the difference on this slope,“ he said, just after stepping down from the podium. He worked hard on his tactics for the descent as he knew he had to push the envelope in order to succeed against big names like the current World Ranking leader Aurelien Ducroz or the Swede Sverre Lillequist. Haunholder orientated his line on a line which the snowboard legend Xavier de le Rue had previously chosen. Comparable to Haunholder the Frenchman was also looking for a line including high and difficult cliff drops with soft landing. During the contest, Matthias was able to do all the things he planned to do: He landed his jumps with ease, showing a fluid run with much control in the very steep and challenging conditions.

With this victory Haunholder already qualified for the next and final tour stop of the Freeride World Tour, the legendary Verbier Xtreme taking place from 20th to 29th of March. Only the best eight riders out of the Freeride World Ranking are allowed to start at the final event. The Austrian Haunholder currently is in second place with

3360 points just behind Aurelien Ducroz who has 3590 points to his name. The win in Tignes is Matthaisʼ third top ten result this year. Finishing seventh in Socci, Russia, he had already established himself as a key player in the Freeride World Tour. By placing second at his home-spot contest, the Big Mountain Fieberbrunn, which counts as a Freeride World Qualifier, he also earned some points for the Freeride World Ranking.

For the finals in Verbier Haunholder still has the chance to make one big dream come true. If he manages to repeat the results of Tignes at the Verbier Xtreme, the ATOMIC team rider would finish the season being first in the overall ranking, and so Austriaʼs first Freeride World Champion.

About Matthias Haunholder

Austria definitely wouldnÊ»t be the number one nation of skiers without Matthias Haunholder. The 29-year-old is the only Austrian rider on the Freeride World Tour 2009. He is the only one to keep up the red and white and red flag on international freeride contests. Last year the Tyrolean guy qualified for the most important competitions in the calendar of Big Mountain contests by winning the Freeride World Qualifier Series. The passionate climber, slackliner and paraglider called Haunholder wants to repeat this placement as soon as possible. But only one level higher: Matthias is outright telling us that he wants to be the World Champion. For a ski guide, who “was born with skis“ he has set himself a tough but not an overambitious goal. At the World Tour Stop in Mammoth/USA 2008 the Glen Plake fan finished sixth - leaving Kaj Zackrisson and Guerlain Chicherit behind. Guerlain already has been World Champion in the past!

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