Results & Video from FWT Austria 2013
Oh snap! While we were too busy skiing in Canada, the 5th stop of the 2013 SWATCH Freeride World Tour just went down in Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria under bluebird skies with fresh pow to boot! Not at the event ourselves, we'll have to let the event report and video do the talking…
In front of the cheering crowd Silas Chickering-Ayers (USA), Sammy Luebke (USA), Nadine Wallner (AUT) and Elodie Mouthon (FRA) scored the highest points in their respective disciplines at the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR 2013 BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT) at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria. The fifth and last event prior to the grande finale in Verbier (SUI), saw intense competition at the highest level. The event was decisive for athletes to score enough points to earn a spot for the finals and qualify for next year. The top ranked riders needed to place well to stay or break into the competition for the overall World Champion title. The fierce battle continues to win the first ever, unified Freeride World Tour Champion titles after a sensational season.
After a week’s waiting period, due to difficult snow and weather conditions, the sun finally came out at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal. With blue bird skies and a 20 cm cover of fresh snow on the 600-metre Wildseeloder north face an action-packed contest went down on the long and demanding face. Riders had to negotiate a mix of deep powder, wind affected snow and hard layers. A fluid and fast choice, executed with creativity and perfection, was key. Austrian freeride fans came out to the venue to cheer on their favourite athletes at front row, proving that in Austria there has always been Kitzbuhel for Alpine lovers but now there is Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal for freeride aficionados!
The battle has been tough all season as more than 80 competing athletes have had one thing in mind: to make it to the finals in Verbier! The spots are few. Only the top 12 men skiers, five men snowboarders, five women skiers and four women snowboarders qualify to the last and final competition. The competition at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal was their last chance.
Impressive speed and solid riding on the difficult venue was significant among the men skiers. A new name finished on top of the podium in Silas Chickering-Ayers, only 20 years old! He took an impressive lead and his first podium of the season, scoring 81.33 points with an outstanding run. The execution was complete when he perfectly landed two huge cliff jumps and skiing fast in full control from top to bottom. Silas Chickering-Ayers took over the top step from his brother Lars, who won the previous stage in Kirkwood! Silas Chickering-Ayers was overwhelmed by his victory: “It’s amazing. I would never have imagined winning among all these incredible athletes. After Lars’ victory in Kirkwood this is pretty special. I’m glad we waited this week. We got some fun snow and got to ski a week in Fieberbrunn! The top of the venue was definitely variable and wind affected but once you got out of that the snow was great. It feels good to get your line just right and stomp it.”
With the season’s fierce competition, Silas Chickering-Ayers does not make the cut to the finals in Verbier but claims he still needs more experience to take on the extremely challenging face of Bec des Rosses.
Swedes Wille Lindberg and Reine Barkered once again made it to the podium with a very similar approach to the mountain, well known as Barkered’s signature style of high speed, no hesitation, solid skiing and big air. Lindberg managed to knock his country mate off the second place with 80.67 points over Barkered’s 79.0 points.
Drew Tabke (USA), seventh at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, has been leading the overall standings more or less all season and is in the hot seat for the World Champion title. He still needs to perform in Verbier to stay in front of fellow competitors like Julien Lopez (FRA) and Reine Barkered (SWE), currently third and fourth on the overall standings. One of the season favourites, Jérémie Heitz of Switzerland, is sitting in second position overall but had a very unfortunate fall today, leading to a bad leg injury. Our thoughts are with him at this moment.
Austrian Nadine Wallner has been riding consistently all season and leading the overall standings prior to Fieberbrunn. She certainly was on fire in front of her home crowd taking the first win of the year at home turf! Skiing a strong line with explosive style and good air, she placed herself on top, scoring 75.0 points. With the win today, Wallner has widened the gap to second placed rider overall and sits in a very good position for the World Champion title. “It was a perfect day for me in great conditions. I’m always satisfied when I can fulfil the line I have planned. The victory here in Fieberbrunn means a lot to me as I can hold on to the ‘golden bib’! It’s my first year on the FWT and I’m leading overall now, which is very motivating for Verbier,” said Wallner.
Matilda Rapaport of Sweden had a sensational start on her first ever FWT competition. She skied an aggressive and clean line all the way to the finish line, with a score of 64,33 points and a second place. Currently standing second on the Freeride World Qualifiers, she received a wild card invitation to the event. Jacklyn Paaso (USA) was the first rider out of the gate today and skied a fast, dynamic line on the untouched face, taking third place with 64.0 points.
Despite a 7th place today, Pia Nic Gundersen (NOR) is still second on the overall standings. Reigning Freeride World Champion, Christine Hargin of Sweden was absent at Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, after hurting her knee a few days prior to the event. She is still holding on to third place overall and hopes to make it to the finals in Verbier.