Following a challenging season due to difficult snow and weather conditions all over the northern hemisphere, the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT) now heads to Verbier, Switzerland, for the Grande Finale on March 22, 2014. On the prolific north face of the Bec des Rosses, riders will push their boundaries in the battle for the 2014 world titles. With some new names at this level of competition, the show promises to be very exciting to watch.
Amongst them will be New Zealand skier Sam Smoothy who currently sits in second place on the overall Tour rankings.
Only the highest ranked 12 male skiers, five male snowboarders, five female skiers and four female snowboarders on the 2014 FWT overall rankings have qualified for the finals on the dauntingly steep and frighteningly jagged 500-metre rock face of the Bec des Rosses. Tension is rising over who will take home the four Freeride World Champion titles. The titles will be awarded using the four best results of the 2014 FWT season, including Verbier, for male skiers and snowboarders, and the best three results, including Verbier, for female skiers and snowboarders.
Sam’s results so far include a win at Kappl, Austria and third place in Snowbird, Utah. He placed sixth in Chamonix, France and 11th in Courmayeur, Italy.
Fans around the world will be able to follow the action live on www.freerideworldtour.com. The event webcast is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM NZT on the day of competition.
Freeride World Qualifier
New Zealand snow sports athletes competing on the Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) tour had mixed results at the recent four star event in Nendaz, Switzerland.
Snowboarder Maria Kuzma and skiers Anna Smoothy and Sam Lee all qualified for finals although Sam Lee incurred an injury which would prevent him from competing.
Sam skied a solid first qualifying run to place sixth but things went badly on the second run later in the day. The ski tracks had frozen and an unexpectedly hard landing off his first drop-off caused an injury to the knee. Too late to pull out of the next drop off, Sam took a second hit on the already compromised knee. Despite his injury Sam remained positive about his performance earlier in the day.
“I am really happy with my first run and am stoked on the way I am skiing at the moment.”
Finals day proved challenging with several athletes losing their way on the convex face which only allowed visibility of 20 metres from the start gate.
“I dropped in in the wrong spot and from there my run was cooked,” explained Anna Smoothy. “I just jumped off what I could find and had quite an underwhelming run. I ended eighth and am really disappointed.”
Maria Kuzma was the top performing Kiwi, earning a third place finish despite being unhappy with her own performance and not riding the line she had planned.