Just as it is every year, the Verbier Xtreme was possibly the gnarliest contest to go down all season. One of the scariest faces in the world – the Bec des Rosses – met some of the best freeriders in the world for the 20th time, signalling the end of this year’s Freeride World Tour.
And what a tour it was: whilst there is (and probably will be for ever) constant debate over unifying the various freestyle snowboarding tours, the FWT already has the complete package – a dedicated group of riders signed on to appear at every stop, variable terrain to suit different approaches through all the stops and plenty of crowd-pleasing action that could appeal to a wider audience, essential in this ‘grow or die’ age of capitalism.
Anyway, global politics aside, the 20th edition of the Verbier Xtreme was as ‘extreme’ as ever. A fresh coating of snow meant that conditions were prime for perennial Bec des Rosses rider Xavier de le Rue and ultimate weekend warrior Sascha Hamm both attacked the face face full on, straightlining to the biggest features they could pick out, but unfortunately both butt checked as well. If either had put down their runs they could have well challenged for the podium.
Colin Boyd took, the opposite approach, choosing a slow, technical route down through a terrifying rock garden that allowed for no mistakes, but the lack of fluidity meant that this was only good enough for fourth. Sammy Luebke – who had been leading the pack having won in Alaska – came out with his classic, surfy style and took a mellow but super controlled route before slashing into a pretty large double.
That left last year’s tour winner Emilien Badoux and this year’s strongest challenger Jonathon Charlet battling for the top spot, the latter taking it in the end as well as the overall victory in the men’s division. Both looked very strong down the face, leaving the madness to the end (Badoux’s Sonic-speed triple might have been the most awesome moment of the day), but Charlet’s huge drop into an only-just-saved-wheelie was deemed the best. Congrats Dude!
Veteran German rider Nicola Thost took the win for the ladies on this, her first ever run down the Bec, getting stuck into plenty of features throughout the face. Estelle Balet and Shannan Yates both looked like they could challenge, but small loses of control saw them come in second and third respectively, enough to give Balet the tour victory for the women.
Missed it? There’s really cool feature here that’ll let you watch the whole event again, or even just the highlights from your favourite riders. See you in 2016 for the next one!