Silas Chickering-Ayers and Nadine Wallner take the FWT podium in Austria
After being in a week-long holding pattern due to bad conditions, the second-to-last stop of the Freeride World Tour took place today in Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal, Austria. The waiting paid off as the venue received eight inches of fresh snow for the competitors to slash through in an attempt to earn enough points for an invite the final stop in Verbier next week. A few small slides prior to the competition left some debris but competitors were happy to have fresh snow on the Wildseeloder face that looked ominously icy just a few days prior.
In the Men’s Ski division it was the 2012 defending champion Reine Barkered coming in third with an aggressive fall-line approach down the steep face that included a number of airs. In addition to being on the podium for the day, Barkered took over the fourth place in the overall point standings. Fast and fluid skiing with a couple of sizeable airs also brought Willie Lindberg to the podium, coming in with a score of 80.67, just above Barkered’s 79.00.
Finally, standing atop the podium this time around was Silas Chickering-Ayers with a score of 81.33. After brother Lars took the top spot in Kirkwood a couple of weeks ago, Silas earned his turn in the spotlight with a run highlighted by two of the biggest airs the judges would see over the course of the day. When asked how he felt after the competition Silas had this to say: “It’s amazing. I would never have imagined winning among all these incredible athletes. After Lars’ victory in Kirkwood this is pretty special. I’m glad we waited this week. We got some fun snow and got to ski a week in Fieberbrunn! The top of the venue was definitely variable and wind affected but once you got out of that the snow was great. It feels good to get your line just right and stomp it.”
For the ladies it was Jackie Passo taking third place with the first run of the day. Passo took advantage of the new snow to make some good-looking turns and threw in a nice air to get herself a 64.00. Next, it was wild card invite, Matilda Rapaport, who took second place with a line that saw her ski across the venue to work a few different features as she edged out Passo with a 64.33. And topping the field of women was the overall points leader, Nadine Wallner, on her home turf in Austria. Wallner skied fluidly, reminding us how fun it is to ski in powder as she made tons of turns down the face and threw in some air time for a score of 75.00.
With the tour almost over, all invited riders will be arriving in Verbier next week for the final stage where the first ever champions of the unified Swatch Freeride World Tour presented by The North Face will be crowned. Fans will be watching to see if the American, Drew Tabke, can retain his spot at the top of the leaderboard. His seventh place finish in Austria has kept him just 300 points ahead of Jérémie Heitz who unfortunately suffered a bad leg injury today. Just behind Heitz are Julien Lopez and Reine Barkered who are within full reach of the gold bib. Nadine Wallner’s win today gives her a healthy lead of almost 1,000 points on the women’s side, over second place Pia Nic Gunderson of Norway. And just behind Gunderson are Christine Hargin and Jackie Passo.
All the action is set to take place in Verbier just one week from today, weather permitting. Tune in to freeskier.com/live for live coverage of the event.