Mammoth - Sochi - The Alps - Tignes - Verbier
Krasnaya Polyana / Sochi, 3 February 2008 - While President Vladimir Putin was skiing on the opposite mountain, the elite of the sport of freeride skiing and snowboarding put on a great show at the second contest of the Freeride World Tour, Nissan Russian Adventure, today in Krasnaya Polyana / Sochi, the Russian host resort of the Winter Olympics 2014. The 43 participating riders proved their skill in a steep and committing first face in exceptionally beautiful scenery, and further freestyling the second section with front-, backflips and other creative riding.
From Mammoth, California to the West Caucasus in Russia in less than a week. And once again the world's best freeride skiers and snowboarders experienced great powder for a part of the contest run that was held from the top ridge of the Krasnaya Polyana resort. The wide ridge with three different starting gates gave the riders the opportunity to choose many varied lines on the 350 vertical metre run. The top section was the extreme part with very steep, serious riding, narrow couloirs and big cliff drops. A lot of sluff was coming down making the route finding even more difficult but absolutely stunning to watch for the spectators. The second section of the run was more of freestyle in skied out terrain, where consistency and creativity awarded.
Henrik Windstedt from Sweden skied the most radical line, starting with around 55 degrees steep solid turns to then drop a ten metre cliff, stomp the landing into a steep narrow chute, topping it up with an impressive backflip and skiing fluid all the way to the finish line. This run was extremely spectacular and put the Swede on top of the podium. "I had decided to go for this line when I looked at it yesterday, but once up at the starting gate it looked really difficult. I decided to go for it anyway and it was just amazing. It suits me to start on smaller faces than for example the Bec des Rosses in Verbier [Nissan O'Neill Xtreme de Verbier], but I look forward to skiing some bigger faces for the next contests," said a thrilled Henrik Windstedt, who was second at Nissan Mammoth Challenge last week.
Once again French veteran Seb Michaud impressed the judges and public with a great run, including an amazing "late back flip", flying probably more than 25 meters in length. Seb Michaud, who won the Nissan Mammoth Challenge split a well earned second place with young American skier Drew Tabke.
Snowboarder Flo Orley from Austria chose to start his line at the steepest part of the face, continued fast and fluid into a difficult couloir, and staying original all the way to the finishing line, winning the men's snowboard discipline. Flo Orley was overjoyed at the prize giving. "I am so happy. From the top of the ridge the couloir looked so steep. It was probably around 55 degrees but the snow was so good. Here the snow sticks to steep faces and I rode it without mistakes. I got so confident after sticking the couloir that I totally relaxed for the next section of the run and really enjoyed it. The venue was short but I think we all agreed on that it was very challenging and really beautiful".
Second placed snowboarder Xavier de le Rue's run stood out as the fastest most aggressive snowboard run of the day with a big cliff drop that he stomped right at the start in a very difficult area. Further down the French pro snowboarder took huge air but slightly missed the landing, which probably took him down from the top step of the podium.
Alaskan skier Elyse Saugstad is used to skiing big, which she confirmed today with a strong, fast and solid line. She started off jumping a cornice and executing a double jump in the middle of the run. "The contest conditions were perfect today, putting a good vibe among the competitors. The other girls were skiing really well, and I aimed to ski fluid and fast. It was a great face to ski on. The bottom half was maybe less extreme but a lot of work, that some might not have taken into enough consideration, which I took advantage of. Very close in points was second placed Marja Persson (Sweden) who did a strong start and consistent skiing all the way.
In the women's snowboard discipline Bibi Pekarek from Austria had the cleanest run with an original, committing entrance, clean jumps and fast riding at the lower part of the run. Although Ruth Leisibach from Switzerland is not riding hundred percent of her capacity, because of a fall earlier this winter, she took second place with a stable run with two nice drops. All the rider's concerns went to Swiss Geraldine Fastnacht, who hurt her knee landing a jump. Geraldine took first place in Nissan Mammoth Challenge last week.
Earlier in the week it snowed heavily in Krasnaya Polyana on a very thin base, meaning high avalanche risk. The organisers of the Freeride World Tour had planned to execute a part of the contest on one of the big, stunning faces of the Caucasus mountain range, with a heli lift from Krasnaya Polyana. For safety reasons the decision had to be made to hold the contest on a shorter but still challenging face.
Next to come: Swatch O'Neill Big Mountain Pro
The next stop of the Freeride World Tour will be in the Alps with the Swatch O'Neill Big Mountain Pro, starting in Chamonix 24 February. The Big Mountain Pro is a unique one week mobile event, including three contest days, taking the riders to some of the greatest mountain faces of the Alps, depending on where snow conditions are the best. The eight highest ranked male riders of the Freeride World Tour and five world class wild cards of each discipline will battle for the 80'000 USD prize purse.