Chickering-Ayers, Huber win Freeride World Tour event at Snowbird
Despite having to postpone the Freeride World Tour stop at Snowbird due to avalanche danger on the original venue, the competition went off without a hitch on Wednesday. Some of the best big-mountain skiers on the planet took to the Silver Fox zone of The ‘Bird, where steep chutes and cliff bands abound.
Lars Chickering-Ayers, originally from Mad River Glen, Vermont, took home the top spot for the men with a score of 90.25.
“I’ve been competing for a long time, so I sometimes find myself being too calm,” said Chickering-Ayers. “I try to pump myself up and take it a little more seriously, but it’s always fun. It is great to have my brother [Silas Chickering-Ayers] competing alongside me as well.”
On the women’s side, Austria’s Lorraine Huber landed an impressive run that scored her an 85.00, good enough for first place in the event.
“I have had two solid results so far on the tour this season, so my strategy was to really step it up with a bigger feature and it worked out perfectly,” said Huber. “I studied the venue for hours and days really. This is my first win on the Tour! We saw an amazing show today for the girls!”
In second place for the women was 2013 FWT women’s ski champion Nadine Wallner (AUT), and in third was Sweden’s Pia Nic Gundersen. Jeremie Heitz of Switzerland and New Zealand’s Sam Smoothy rounded out the men’s podium in second and third respectively.
The next stop of the FWT will be in Revelstoke, British Columbia on March 10.
Press Release, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Utah, March 5, 2014:
After an unfortunate delay of the competition at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort on Sunday, the new venue, Silver Fox, glistened under a bluebird sky primed for competition with a fresh layer of creamy snow. More than 60 of the world’s best freeriders from around the world gathered here to compete at the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® (FWT). Silver Fox has played host to many freeride competitions in the past. Its consistent pitch allows riders to open up the throttle and punctuate runs with a variety of features located on the face. An enthusiastic and eager crowd gathered to enjoy the spectacle and cheer for their favorite ski and snowboard athletes.
The competition began with women’s snowboarding. The 2013 FWT Champion Elodie Mouthon of France managed to win her category with a super fast run down the fall line through the steepest section of the venue known as North Chute. The judges awarded her with a score of 75.75.
In second place, Estelle Balet of Switzerland executed two airs into and out of the North Chute. She finished her run with a nice double feature at the bottom earning a score of 72.75. Local Snowbird, Utah, USA rider Kaitlin Elliot chose a creative line with an exceptionally smooth straight-line at the bottom. Elliot came in third place with a score of 67.00.
The women’s ski category had exceptionally strong performances across the board. The judges and crowd were amazed by the speed and large airs managed by many in this category. Lorraine Huber of Austria has had an excellent season with third place finishes in both Chamonix and Fieberbrunn. Today, she topped off her season with first place at Snowbird and a score of 85.00. Huber’s fluid run featured a massive air in the middle of the venue.
“I have had two solid results so far on the tour this season, so my strategy was to really step it up with a bigger feature and it worked out perfectly,” exclaimed Huber. “I studied the venue for hours and days really. This is my first win on the Tour! We saw an amazing show today for the girls!”
Following Huber, 2013 FWT Women’s Ski Champion Nadine Wallner of Austria landed the second podium position. There was no hesitation in Wallner’s run as she charged straight to the finish after stomping a good-sized air. Wallner’s score was 80.25. Rounding out the women’s podium in third place, Pia Nic Gundersen of Sweden had a very speedy run down the fall line with a large air exiting the North Chute.
Next, was the men’s snowboard category. Having already accomplished a second place finish in Chamonix, Jamie Rizzuto of Canada won the top spot for the first time as an FWT rider. Rizzuto started his run with a 360 rotation and cleanly linked two consecutive airs. He arched technical turns through the popular North Chute and effortlessly flew over the cliffs at the bottom of the area. The judges gave him a score of 86.50.
“I actually was not going to hit one of the cliffs, but I changed my mind after Lorraine Huber did,” commented Rizzuto. “The air looked really awesome so I decided to hit it. I tried to stick to the fall line, and wanted it to flow and have fun. I remembered to have some soul.”
In second place, Swiss rider Emilien Badoux ventured into the exposure-ridden Hanging Bowl area of the venue with a huge air. He exited the terrain by singling a cliff many riders would take in two hits. His run earned a score of 83.50. Aurelien Routens of France came in third place with a unique and fast run earning a score of 78.25.
Last but not least, was the men’s ski competition. With the stakes increasing at this point in the season many of the skiers were out to progress the sport and their scores on Silver Fox. Lars Chickering-Ayers, originally of Mad River Glen, VT, USA but often found skiing at Snowbird, won the contest amongst many friends and fans in the crowd. Chickering-Ayers sleighed the fall line with minimal turns and a gigantic air. He earned the top score of the day, 90.25.
“I chose a line that looked a little more challenging with less snow, which makes the features bigger. I’ve never skied this line in a comp,” said Lars Chickering-Ayers.
“I’ve been competing for a long time, so I sometimes find myself being too calm. I try to pump myself up and take it a little more seriously, but it’s always fun. It is great to have my brother [Silas Chickering-Ayers] competing alongside me as well.”
Swiss skier Jeremie Heitz came in second place with a score of 88.75. Heitz had an effortless-seeming run with several large airs. In third place representing the Southern Hemisphere, Sam Smoothy of New Zealand hit a large cliff at the top know as the “Frenchie” rock and controlled his speed linking several consecutive airs. Smoothy was awarded a score of 86.50.
For more riders’ quotes click here.
The SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® continues its competition 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 stakes in Revelstoke will be extra high as athletes tackle the infamous Mac Daddy face. The remainder of the schedule includes both men’s and women’s ski and snowboard competition.
The Freeride World Tour at Snowbird was made possible with additional support from the Utah Sports Commission. Visit utahsportscommission.com to find other great events taking place in Utah, The State of Sport.
For more information on the SWATCH FREERIDE WORLD TOUR BY THE NORTH FACE® and Freeride World Qualifier events, visit www.freerideworldtour.com.
Each event of the FWT will be broadcasted live on freerideworldtour.com.
About the author:
Donny O'Neill hails from the mystical, faraway land of New Hartford, CT. When he's not in the mountains searching for Big Foot, he's the Associate Editor here at Freeskier.