Wrap Up #2: FWT Hakuba Staged at Kicking Horse
Despite another disappointing day with no cock circles to be seen, the Freeride World Tour needed to host the postponed Hakuba stop and Kicking Horse was up to the challenge. For the first time ever, back- to-back events were held and athletes were just recovering from their previous day’s run when they had to hike up Terminator Peak to drop in again.
Truth and Dare has been the 4* Wrangle the Chute venue for the last four years and did a fair job fending off the big cats from the FWT. Canadians and Wrangle the Chute Alumni Kylie Sivell, Trace Cooke, Audrey Hebert, Logan Pehota and Jonathan Penfield used their local knowledge to get into the steep, blind and technical zones without hesitation.
Unfortunately for Kylie, the sugary hanging snowfield caused her to lose a ski and come in 8th in the Women’s category, but she was the only woman skier to ski out on the exposed no fall zone skiers’ left side. Logan finished 4th in Men’s Ski by flashing straight into a very large air with a sniper landing, only replicated, albeit hesitantly, by Ivan Malakov. Trace Cooke skied super clean and fluid through tech airs for a 5th place in Men’s Ski, but unfortunately the FWT rewards wow factor more than cleanliness.
A couple of hang-ups held Audrey Hebert down to 6th in Women Snowboard but her comfortable riding and air through the steep lingering finger proved why she is on the tour. Penfield, who calls Squamish home but hails from the US, was the first to drop and rode one of the cleanest lines all day down a pow spine and off Lesser’s Leap for a 1st place in Men’s Snowboard.
The Men’s Ski field saw Reine Barkered do his first backflip in a FWT competition. Drew Tabke, George Rodney and Leo Slemmet all sent, but struggled with, the intimidating Pillar Drop pioneered by Ewan Williams at the 2014 Wrangle. Markus Eder had an amazing run with a high speed billygoat to sniper landing, backflip and flawless cork 3. Unfortunately a backslap on the backy held him off the podium.
Women’s Ski was divided into two categories, those who skied the technical face like a GS course and those who linked cliffs. It’s tough to judge between two different styles but it’s safe to say that the strength and technique used to flash a run was not lost on the crowd. Rachel Croft’s now iconic straightline will be making all the locals weak in the knees when they peer in from the top. Hazel Birnbaum combined the two styles with a creative double and fast turns to land a second place.
Men’s Snowboard saw lots of confident riding from Penfield and Baird with stylish pow turns that made every skier a little bit jealous. The one and only Gigi Rüf styled out airs in a no fall zone but then his dreams of winning were washed away by his slough at the choke.
Wakana Hama took home the gold for Women’s snowboarding but there was excellent riding through the entire field, most of which got into the gnarly terrain of the Lingering Finger or beyond despite the deteriorating snow and light conditions. Marion Haerty showed us why you don’t give up by sticking a perfect 360 after two crashes up top…
So there ya have it. Kicking Horse was able to dodge some of the bad luck that’s been dogging the FWT in the last few seasons. And with two successful events now in the bag, the FWT was able to put points on the board for 2018.
Next stop, Andorra!
Full Hakuba replay courtesy of the FWT: