Verbier, Switzerland – March 22, 2013 – An historic season of the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR 2013 BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT) came to an end with jaw dropping action on the mythical Bec des Rosses face in Verbier, Switzerland on 22 March. Only the highest placed athletes on the 2013 FWT rankings and a few exclusive wild cards qualified for the steeps of the infamous Bec des Rosses, amongst them New Zealand’s own Charlie Lyons.
Lyons admitted to a mixture of nerves and excitement as he prepared himself for “the biggest week of my life”. The Christchurch skier maintained a humble approach throughout the six-event global series, seeming almost to surprise himself with his consistently strong results. Starting out with a fifth place finish at the first stop in Revelstoke, Lyons then placed 10th in Courmayeur and eighth in Chamonix before finding himself on the podium in third place at the Kirkwood stop. By this stage, Lyons was assured of a spot at the Verbier competition even despite a crash and subsequent 20th place finish in Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria.
“Coming into Verbier after Fieberbrunn I was really nervous about the event,” says Lyons.
Acting as support crew for Lyons was fellow New Zealander Sam Smoothy. A disappointing FWT season meant that Smoothy hadn’t qualified for Verbier but was on hand to offer advice.
“I had a great support crew with Sam helping me with my line choice prior to the event,” says Lyons.
“Unfortunately things didn't work out the way I had planned. I chose the winning line from Reine Barkered (SWE) in last year’s event but made the same mistake as I made in Austria; however, this time I really tried to fight my fall but it was not to be.”
The fall meant that Lyons finished the Tour ranked ninth. He has mixed emotions about the final result.
“Having looked at this specific event on the Bec des Rosses as purely a learning curve I feel there are still a great deal of positives to take out of this event. I feel I can come back next year and push for a podium which before the event I doubted.
“The feelings and emotions of my campaign are yet to settle. I know during my remaining weeks here in Europe and once I get back to New Zealand and have some time to reflect, the magnitude of what I have achieved will settle in. It’s a very surreal feeling at the moment having set myself season goals and to end the season ranked ninth in the world. I’m truly proud to represent my country and grateful for all the support from back home. Friends, family and sponsors, thanks so much.”
Victory on the Bec des Rosses and the race for the Freeride World Champion title was a true nail biter, playing out with the five last riders of the day. Kevin Guri of France skied a spectacular high speed run and landing big air, which put the Frenchman on the top spot of the day, with a score of 86.33 points.
The battle for the overall title kept the fans in suspense till the very last rider out of the gate, Reine Barkered (SWE). The solid Swede and 2012 Champion took second with an outstanding run on the “Bec” but it was not enough to hold on to the title. Drew Tabke (USA), finishing an exceptional season with a sixth place at Verbier, was crowned the new Freeride World Tour Champion.
Tabke, a veteran in freeride competitions, won the season’s first competition in Revelstoke (CAN) and never let go of the top spot on the overall standings.
Image: Charlie Lyons
Credit: P Field