The Horse Kicked Hard – FWT Kicking Horse Event Recap
by Matt Francisty
The Freeride World Tour finally made its way back into Canada and it didn’t disappoint.
The first completed event of the season took place this Monday at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort which towers above the town of Golden BC. The first scheduled event of the season in Hakuba, Japan was postponed due to conditions, so this Kicking Horse comp kicked off the FWT competition season (pun intended).
After several days of stormy weather the gates finally opened on Monday, revealing the sheer beauty of the Purcell Mountains and the classic steep Kicking Horse terrain. The competition was held on the permanently closed South facing slope known as “Ozone” (2504m). The venue is slightly smaller than other faces on the tour which meant riders were going to have to be very creative to stand out. Local legend Dave Treadway started off the day as the forerunner. In typical “Shreadway” fashion he laced about six super-g turns to the bottom in several seconds.
Snowboard men got the competition rolling. Amidst some pesky clouds they waited out a few weather delays, and several riders fell throughout the field including legendary Gigi Ruf and Whistler resident Jonathan Penfield. Alaskan Davey Baird took his first ever FWT victory with a very fast and committing line scoring an impressive 88.67. Austrian Thomas Feurstein finished in second place with a score of 78. Finishing of the podium to make it an American sandwich was fellow Yankee Blake Hamm scoring 68. Three time world champion Sammy Luebke played it smart and took it easy due to an injury.
Snowboard women went next. Japanese wildcard Wakana Hama was first out of the gate with her debut FWT run. Hama had a very impressive top section charging fast and connecting several features. Unfortunately she fell down the lower cliff band ending a very promising run. Austrian Manuela Mandl took the top prize with a score of 80. Following on the podium in 2nd was fast charging Russian Anna Orlova (69.33) and in 3rd Frances Marion Haerty (65).
Now it was time for the anticipated skier show.
Women’s ski went first. Austrians Eva Walker took the win opening up a new line on the face with a technical entrance cliff, fast turns down the middle and ending with a large bottom cliff scoring 86. Italy’s Arianna Tricomi looking to top her FWT17 overall ranking of 3rd started of the year well with a 2nd place finish. Tricomi showed her strength with a very fast top section and a confident bottom air scoring 81. Finishing off the podium was Canada’s own and Rossland local Kylie Sivell. Continuing her hot streak from last season she skied fast and confidently to score 75.
The big show was now up to finish off the day. The ski men’s list is unbelievably stacked this year. It is always exciting to have a brand new competition face on the tour and see how creative the riders can get. The day was full of massive airs, fast skiing and very few falls making the judging very difficult.
The days leading up added a lot of pressure to Canadian local Logan Pehota who seemed to be in the spotlight for nearly every interview. He did not disappoint. Pehota came flying out of the gate sending a massive 360 off the top cornice followed by some very technical and extremely rocky mid-section cliffs. The climax of the run was a very technical bottom air for which Pehota had to confidently charge off a narrow take off and clear nearly fifty feet of rocks to a complete stomp.
Pehota made history by possibly scoring the highest line in FWT history with a 98/100. I joked with Pehota saying that he just scored higher than any previous high school exam.
MSP poster boy Markus Eder finally made his way back to the podium with his signature style of nailing a unique line that few competitors thought of. Starting off with a large upper cliff that he hit differently than others, he then charged fast down the middle section of the face and threw a shifty over a smaller feature. His bottom air is what got him on the podium with a huge transfer 360, clearing several small trees and skiing way to earn a score of 94.
Finishing off the podium was Russia’s Ivan “Mad” Malakhov. They don’t call him mad for nothing. Malakhov continuously always sends some of the biggest cliffs of the day. He started off the run with a massive top air with a four point stomp. He then charged down the face to hit another massive bottom air scoring 90.33. Honorable mention goes to FWT15 World Champion George Rodney who went absolutely massive… sending an untouched cliff that was probably close to 100′. He dodged the landing when he realized he had no chance of landing it. It’s always so exciting to see where Rodney goes.
What an amazing start of the FWT season. Immediately after the awards ceremony the athletes were rushed back up to the top of the gondola to inspect a competition face called “truth and dare”. The plan was to complete the Hakuba event in Kicking Horse the following day.
We’ll be back with the full #NotJapan Hakuba comp story shortly.
Credit: Freeride World Tour / J. Bartlett