All three events have been a great success, finishing off with the third competition at Verbier, where the juniors proved that they can and will deliver in the toughest conditions. With difficult and changing snow on the competition face, the lookers left side of the legendary Bec des Rosses, the riders had to negotiate rock hard snow, at times breakable crust and a few patches of soft to make it even more complicated. On top of that the light was almost non-existent, a true flat light day, which really complicates route finding, sticking to your line choice and managing landings. The 92 young but talented skiers and snowboarders showed the cheering public that they were up to it. What an incredible performance. These junior rippers are for sure making some history and taking the sport to another level!
The riders hiked up the side of the face to get to the start, giving them the opportunity to scope their lines. It was a nervous and difficult moment to decide what would be possible, safe, but still spectacular to do in these tough conditions. The juniors seem to have learned a lot from previous competitions, training with coaches and above all being out in the mountains, as they managed to ride fast and controlled at their personal levels on the long and tiring face.
A big part of the FWT pro riders were onsite to watch their future competitors come down. Freeride World Champion 2012, Reine Barkered of Sweden, was among the public and was pretty overwhelmed by the show. “It’s really impressive to see the level of these guys and girls, especially in these conditions! They’re charging as if there is no tomorrow, but keeping it together really solidly and controlled! I’m a bit jealous actually! This didn’t exist when I grew up…It’s cool, they learn to read the mountain and take decisions at an early age. Mixing that with a good alpine technique creates very solid riders. And most importantly they’re having a good time! The atmosphere is really great.”
The top three snowboarder girls overall, all had a solid season. French Marie Surry took first in Verbier with a clean run, but finally, second placed UK rider Ayla Thidling came out on top on the overall ranking. One of the favourites Maurane Stritmatter, unfortunately fell and hurt her knee and we wish her a speedy recovery.
Paul Sautelli has dominated the snowboarders in the previous two events. With a third place in Verbier, it was enough to secure the overall win. The best rider among the snowboarders in Verbier was Sautelli’s friend Paul Meynier, who reached the podium on every event. He was one of the last riders down the face, finishing off in style, keeping the level of riding high till the very end of the competition.
Race director Cyril Neri, was happy after the contest and very satisfied with the 2014 season.
“We have been well prepared and even when conditions were tough we managed to pull off a competition. I am saying this because it also applies to our junior riders. When you are well prepared and well organised you take good decisions. Thanks to our local guide Claude Alain Gailland, he gave us the go this morning. It was a hard decision, but experience pays off. When it comes to the level of competition, it’s crazy to see that some of these young riders can master the runs with perfection and no hesitation, with total control. They are all so cool, really humble and a great new wave of riders with a true freeride spirit. I can’t wait to see this evolve even further next year!”
The weekend is not over! The juniors get to ride with three legendary pros, Seb Michaud, Kevin Guri and Phil Maier, and they will meet the ski patrol to collect more mountain knowledge for their future adventures.
Results Junior Freeride Tour by Dakine, Verbier:
Women’s Snowboard 14-17
1. Marie Surry FRA 53.67
2. Ayla Thidling GBR 50.33
3. Gabrielle Beche FRA 45.00
Full results click here - Overall rankings click here
For more information on the JUNIOR FREERIDE TOUR BY DAKINE, please visit www.freerideworldtour.com.
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