FWT23 kicked off in style in the Spanish Pyrenees, with athletes in all disciplines going large in front of a massive regional crowd. Sunny skies greeted athletes today in Baqueira Beret for the first stop of the 2023 Freeride World Tour season. The day lived up to the anticipation, and the world’s best freeriders held nothing back to secure some early-season points.
Conditions proved tricky for competitors at the Baciver venue, with wind-affected snow at the top opening up to more playful powder in the lower sections. But this didn’t deter the athletes, who all went large to impress the judges and gain those valuable points. Here’s what went down:
FWT21 runner-up, Katie Anderson (CAN), found a playful line, linking multiple airs and grabs with incredible board control, before cruising through the lower powder field with style. Anna Orlova finished in second place, ahead of long-time FWT athlete Erika Vikander (USA) in third.
“It’s really awesome to be back here with all the FWT people, and the fans especially. I changed my run last minute and was pretty nervous, but the snow was better than I thought. I had a lot of fun, and I am stoked with the win. Shout out to Tiff [Tiphanie Perrotin] for the massive air!”
Michael Mawn (USA) took the win for the second consecutive year with a strong technical line. He threaded the needle at the top of the course, airing into a tight couloir, which threw him out at high speed into the face. He then sent multiple critical airs while maintaining complete control of the board under his feet. Holden Samuels (USA) was close in second with 90 points – an impressive feat in his first FWT performance – and Ludovic Guillot-Diat (FRA) rounded off the podium.
“It’s so good to be back here; this is my favorite stop, and the fans are so welcoming. An avalanche took out my planned line, and so I had to pick out another one, which I was a bit on edge about. But I found some good snow and went full throttle – I was really pushing it! I just felt really happy to be here with everyone.”
Addison Rafford (USA) couldn’t have kicked off her FWT career any better, claiming victory with a fluid run from top to bottom. She begun with multiple airs from the start of the judging zone, before sending it deep off a cliff into a tight couloir, linking a few turns into a final air with a grab. Compatriot Molly Armanino (USA) finished second, and Sybille Blanjean (SUI) third.
“My run was so much fun. I found it hard to pick my line from the visual inspection, but it turned out well, and I really enjoyed it. It’s my first time in Europe, and I’m super stoked to be in Baqueira Beret – this place is unreal!”
Max Palm (SWE) backed up his debut FWT win last year at this venue with another near-faultless display of freeriding. The young Swede opened his account with a super critical 360 into a tight zone, before linking aggressive big mountain turns into a tweaked-out air. He finished with a huge backflip and another air at high speed, cruising through the gates for the win. Oscar Mandin (FRA) and Carl Regnér Eriksson (SWE) finished second and third, respectively, each with mind-blowing runs.
“I am so stoked to be back in Baqueira after getting the win here last year. Since I woke up this morning everything has gone well: I had the best runs on piste, and I just felt it was going to be a good day. I put down my run and stuck to my plan, ending up in first position. Baqueira is the best place ever, I just love this place!”
The first event of FWT23 was one to remember, with athletes delivering explosive action in front of an impressive Spanish crowd. Freeride fans watching on were going insane for the local contingent – Aymar Navarro, Abel Moga and Elisabet Marina – while an emotional Aymar officially announced his retirement from the FWT. The world’s best freeriders will only have a short time to rest and prepare for the next event – the Ordino Arcalís Pro, running February 4-9 – as the quest for the coveted FWT trophy continues. For a full replay of today’s action, visit www.freerideworldtour.com, and stay tuned to the FWT social channels to stay up to speed with all the latest news as it drops.