Kappl, Austria- (3 February 2014) – New Zealand freeskier Sam Smoothy (Cromwell) has claimed victory at the third stop of the Freeride World Tour in Kappl, Austria.
Challenging snowpack in Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen caused organisers to move the third SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT) 2014 stop to Kappl, which is also in the Tirol region of Austria. Competition finally got underway on Monday night (NZT).
Starting from an altitude of 2,800 metres and with variable snow conditions making for tricky landings, riders were required to execute impeccable control.Sam Smoothy screamed down the fall line with a fast, high-energy run, managing to incorporate both a double and triple cliff drop into his run. His excellent technique throughout the venue pleased the judges and he was rewarded with a score of 86.50.
“It's been a while between Freeride World Tour podiums,” commented Sam who had his best FWT season to date in 2012 when he achieved three podiums placings. “It was a massive bonus to take a win here, I couldn't be happier.”
Sam started the 2014 tour seemingly on the back foot when an emergency operation to remove his appendix almost caused him to miss the first FWT stop in Courmayeur. Luckily for Sam, weather delays bought him extra recovery time allowing him to compete in Courmayeur and claim 11th place. At the next stop in Chamonix he upped the ante a little further to take sixth place. His win in Kappl now moves him into second place on the overall FWT rankings.
“I feel like I'm building momentum towards the finals in my home-from-home in Verbier and will look to keep slowly pushing harder as the season progresses,” enthused Sam following his win.
Fellow New Zealand skiers Charlie Lyons and Neil Williman finished in 15th and 22nd place respectively.
“Today was another frustrating day at the office but I was happy to get my best result of the season,” remarked Charlie Lyons. “I have been learning to ski a longer ski which is helping fix some of my technical mistakes in the first couple of competitions.
"I’m now looking forward to the next five weeks off and look to take the confidence I gained from today into the final stops of the tour.”
Neil Williman looked to be in the running for a season best performance until his last landing unseated him. Snowboarder Ruari Mcfarlane suffered a similar fate, with a fall in the out run dashing hopes of a podium placing and giving him a final placing of 11th.
The FWT continues its competition schedule in Kirkwood, California on March 1 and in Revelstoke, Canada March 10 where the final athlete cut will be made for the Xtreme Verbier final championship competition in Switzerland on March 22.
The Freeride World Tour is considered the world’s premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour. The 2014 tour features six venues throughout Europe and America and has a total prize purse of 400,000 USD.
Image credit: FWT2014/ Thaller