The first stop of the Freeride World Tour 2024 was held today in Verbier. The Petit Bec was in prime condition for the athletes, with a consistent snowpack from top to bottom, and a fresh layer of snow overnight that softened the landings.
Two-time FWT Champion Victor de Le Rue (FRA) continued his dominance in this category with an aggressive, fluid run to take the win. He opened his account with a switch 180, then made quick work of the Petit Bec, combining an oozy backside 360 mid-run and a huge, fall-line triple drop with ease. Holden Samuels (USA) started his FWT by Peak Performance campaign with an impressive second place, while rookie Timm Schröder (GER) exploded onto the FWT scene with an insane display of freeriding to round off the podium in third.
"I am super happy to stomp my run on this face – it’s steep and fast, but you can still go big and do tricks. I am pumped for this winter and can’t wait to get back here for the next event and to ride at Fieberbrunn again. This year’s rookies look solid, and will push us to do some sicker runs", Le Rue said.
Núria Castán Barón (ESP) firmly announced her return to competition after an avalanche incident last season, confidently claiming her first FWT victory. The Spanish sensation sent a huge cliff up top, then linked some dreamy powder turns surrounded by exposure, and finished with a shifty before the end gates. Rookie Anna Martinez (FRA) put down a strong run to finish in second spot, with Estelle Rizzolio (FRA) taking third.
“I chose a line that was the best option for me; I don’t like to take it easy, so I chose something more technical with a big drop. I am super stoked to finish first, and I think all the girls did a great job. It has been such a personal challenge for me after the avalanche, but I am so happy to get to the bottom with the win – a good start for my dream of becoming FWT world champion!”, Castán said.
Zuzanna Witych (POL) put down an absolute heater with a near-perfect score of 97.67, emerging from a stacked field of talented riders to finish on top. Zuzanna’s skiing was aggressive and controlled, taking no time to stack up the points with an air out of the gates, then charging some freeride turns before lining up three ginormous cliffs to bolts. Manon Loschi (FRA) also came out firing in her very first competition at the top level to take second place, ahead of Molly Armanino (USA) in third.
"I have no words; I am so surprised. I loved this line from the first time I saw the face, but I didn’t expect it to be that big. I never imagined the scenario of leading the rankings, and I really want to keep pushing myself. I love Verbier – it’s such a mecca for freeriding and home to so many good riders, and so to win here is just mind-blowing!", Witych said.
The ski men’s category went huge today, but the ever-impressive Max Hitzig (GER) proved too strong, putting down a spicy run and skiing with speed and power to finish ahead of the field. A couple of rapid airs to start teased the judges before he found another gear, beginning the lower section with two huge airs and a Titanic 360. The young Kiwi Finn Bilous (NZL) finished in second place with a run defined by speed and fluidity – including an insane flat spin – with two-time FWT champion Kristofer Turdell (SWE) in third place.
"It was a really special and technical run. Normally, I like flatter terrain, but I enjoyed the steep slopes here, it makes you concentrate. I wanted to start with a solid run this year, and my plan is to have fun this season and try my best. I look forward especially to the new stop in Georgia", Hitzig said.