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Verbier Freeride World Tour Finals 2009

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Updated Story by Drew Tabke & Davide De Masi – The 2009 Freeride World Tour came to an end on Sunday with the successful completion of the Nissan Verbier Xtreme. The event was held on the Bec Des Rosses, the most notorious venue in the world for big mountain riding, and despite poor snow conditions the event ran safely and showcased some incredible descents. The results of the event decided the overall Freeride World Tour champions as well as the “Rider’s Choice” winners of 2009, and paved the way for next year’s FWT.  

Verbier, Switzerland has had more snowfall this season than they’ve received in over ten years. During the season anticipation was high with competitors, fans, and organizers looking forward to what could have been historically good conditions on the Bec Des Rosses. However the winds were also abnormally high during the season, so exposed faces such as that of the “Bec” had been scoured repeatedly, exposing rock and preventing deep accumulation. Unfortunately in the week leading up the competition the trend continued with several days of strong winds deteriorating the face under blue skies. As competitors are only allowed to inspect the venue visually in preparation for their runs, three forerunners descended the main routes of the face on Friday with the competitors looking on through binoculars, attempting to decipher the snow conditions. The snow was already quite variable, ranging from soft wind-deposit, to some rock-hard sections with breakable crust in between. And the competition wasn’t until Sunday.

 
One of the most notable events this year at the Nissan Xtreme was the assigning of a second venue specifically for women. In the past, men and women alike started from the summit of the Bec, but this year the organizers felt that the event would run better if women started from a lower point of the mountain. The Pro Freerider’s Board, a group of male and female athletes from the tour whose consent is needed before such changes can take effect, approved the proposal. At the athlete meeting during the previous stop of the FWT in Tignes, France when this decision was announced, no opposition was voiced. So on Sunday, the male skiers and snowboarders were on the summit of the Bec, and the women were positioned on the west ridge of the peak.

Despite the challenging conditions, the skiing from men and women was spectacular. Lines which are normally only skied during perfect conditions were taken on by multiple competitors, such as “Hollywood,” a 60’+ cliff in the middle of the face above exposure. In a testament to the competitors’ skill (and undoubtedly a touch of good luck) the competition concluded without any injuries, a welcome change after Tignes, where two competitors were hospitalized by injuries sustained during falls in competition.


Norwegian skier Ane Enderud won the women’s ski competition. She was on the tour as a wild card, and her victory on Sunday pushed her ahead of previous world tour point leader Marja Persson to also take the overall world title.  In women’s snowboarding, French legend Geraldine Fausnacht won the event, her second victory in a row after Tignes, and American snowboarder Susan Mol placed third, thus securing her spot as world tour champion. Aurelien Ducroz of France won the men’s ski event and the world title, and in snowboarding, Xavier de Le Rue won the event. He had already secured the point race for the overall world title after winning the competition in Tignes.

De Le Rue becomes the first two-time world champ in the short history of the Freeride World Tour and he did so in extremely convincing style. The point race for men’s and women’s ski and women’s snowboarding were decided by differences of 100-490 points, but De Le Rue was ahead of the nearest competitor by over 2,000 points. As if this wasn’t enough, he won the Rider’s Choice award, giving him the keys to a new Nissan. American skier Elyse Saugstad won the Rider’s Choice award for the ladies, also putting a new car in her driveway.

Some doubts have been voiced by competitors about the availability of sponsorship money to continue the FWT in the upcoming years, especially since the primary sponsor, Nissan, is in one of the industries hit hardest by the current economic downturn. But head organizer Nicolas Hale-Woods concluded the event with a confident statement. “Believe me when I say there will be a 2010 Freeride World Tour!” The top riders from this year have a spot in next year’s tour, which looks to only get bigger despite the perceived economic uncertainty.

Freeride World Ranking 2009

Men Ski
1- Aurelien Ducroz FRA
2- Reine Barkered SWE
3-Sverre Liliequ

ist SWE

Women Ski
1-Ane Enderud NOR
2-Marja Persson SWE (ya Marja!!)
3-Jess McM

illan USA

Men Snowboard
1-Xavier de Le Rue FRA
2- Alex Coudray SUI
3- Max Zipser AUT

Women Snowboard
1- Susan Mol USA
2- Aline Bock GER
3- Geraldine Fasnacht SUI

©NISSAN XTREME VERBIER / C.MARGOT

Results for the Nissan Xtreme de Verbier 2009

Men Ski
1- Aurelien Ducroz FRA
2- Reine Barkered SWE
3-Raphy Gillioz SUI

Women Ski
1-Ane Enderud NOR
2- Marja Persson SWE
3-Jess McMillan USA

Men Snowboard
1-Xavier de Le Rue FRA
2-Mitch Toelderer AUT
3-Matt Annetts SUI

Women Snowboard
1-Geraldine Fasnacht SUI
2-Bibi Pekarek AUT
3- Susan Mol USA


© Nissan FWT M. Lang-Willar

See Final Competition Results >>

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