Stop #3 of Freeride World Tour 2022 ran to successful completion in Kicking Horse Golden, BC this Saturday with challenging conditions and high drama for the Tour’s rankings. With the results from Kicking Horse confirmed, a select group of riders are now qualified to the FWT Finals.
The drama started before the competition even began. 115km/h winds affected the mountains around Kicking Horse Golden, B.C. two days before the event and the planned venue, Ozone, bore the brunt of the wind and was left in poor condition. Following consultation between the riders, guides and organizers, the decision was made to change venues to T1 South. This change required an impressive all-night effort from organizers to move the entire competition and production infrastructures to the other side of the resort. The conditions on the new venue were challenging, but with dry conditions across much of North America, it was still a huge victory to complete another successful event.
The day began with Snowboard Women, with Erika Vikander (USA) grabbing her second event victory of the 2022 season. Vikander put down a solid run, linking several airs with her signature stylish riding. She was followed by Katie Anderson (CAN), whose high-speed, powerful style made quick work of the challenging face. Former World Champion Manuela Mandl (AUT) rounded out the podium in 3rd place, with an impressively technical entry from start #2.
"The snow was difficult but I’m so happy to put down another clean run! Making the cut with the golden bib is really exciting, and I can’t wait to get to the next events in Austria and Switzerland." - Erika Vikander
The next category was Snowboard Men, with Camille Armand (FRA) taking the win. Armand has been on the podium at all three events of 2022; he previously placed 3rd in Ordino Arcalís and 2nd place in Baqueira Beret. In 2nd place was FWT veteran Ludovic Guillot-Diat (FRA), who rode a unique line down the rider’s right side of the venue. Cody Bramwell (GBR) finished in 3rd place with a run that featured a massive 360 at the top and full-speed riding down the center of the face.
"I feel good to take the win today. I’m also happy because now my ranking for the season gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming events. Am I aiming for the world title? We’ll see!" - Camille Armand
Ski Women again put on an incredible show, and tour rookie Lily Bradley (USA) emerging victorious. Bradley looked unaffected by the tough conditions as she put down a smooth run with a technical entrance and several fluidly-linked airs. Following up her victory in Ordino Arcalís with another solid result was Jess Hotter (NZL), who took second place with a characteristically hard-charging run. 3rd place went to the young Canadian Olivia McNeill (CAN). "I want to to push my level by adding more tricks to my runs, and it’s also important to me to be a good representative for young queer women in our sport." - Lily Bradley
The final category of the day was Ski Men and the drama and action could not have been more intense. Defending World Champion Kristofer Turdell (SWE) needed a strong result and he did not disappoint, with a balanced run showing his smooth style, big-mountain prowess and freestyle ability that awarded him 3rd place. Max Palm (SWE) was able to bounce back from a brutal crash in Ordino Arcalís to put down another incredible run for 2nd place. Max’s event- winning double backflip in Baqueira Beret was the first time that trick had been successfully landed in FWT history, and he pulled it off again for another podium finish in Canada. But stealing the show for his second victory in a row was tour rookie Maxime Chabloz (SUI), who put down a freestyle-heavy run featuring two 360s, a cork 720 and a huge backflip to take the win.
"My plan today was to go for a purely freestyle run. I saw Max’s double backflip and knew I had to go for it, so I tried to take my jumps as big as possible, grab every air, and I added an air at the bottom no one else hit. I’m dedicating this win to my brother Yannick, who was recently injured competing in the Olympics in China." - Maxime Chabloz
As the intense action of the competition concluded, riders experienced some of the most emotional moments of the season, with the new overall ranking determining The Cut. The top 25 riders (11 ski men, 6 ski women, 5 snowboard men, 3 snowboard women) are now qualified to the FWT Finals, while those who placed below the qualification line were relegated to the FWQ Finals. Perhaps most surprising amongst the riders not advancing to FWT Finals was two-time world champion Victor De Le Rue (FRA). Despite a 2nd place finish in Ordino Arcalís, poor results in the other two events were insufficient to secure qualification for the defending champion.
Currently leading the Snowboard rankings are Camille Armand (FRA) and Erika Vikander (USA). In the Ski categories, Maxime Chabloz (SUI) and Jess Hotter (NZL) are at the top of the pack. These riders will be wearing the yellow jersey as the tour heads to the first of the two FWT Finals events in Fieberbrunn, Austria (15-20 March). Although some riders have distinguished themselves as standouts, the race for the world title remains wide open, and champions will ultimately be decided at the final event of the year in Verbier, Switzerland (26 March - 3 April).