Featured Image: Maria Knoll, Skier: Ariana Tricomi
After patiently waiting for conditions to improve for the latest stop on the Freeride World Tour (FWT)–the competition was delayed twice because of freeze-thaw spring cycles–and switching the venue to a more manageable face, athletes were finally given the green light to compete on March 7, 2019, when a welcome dusting of fresh snow graced the “Quince Metros” venue of Ordino Arcalís, Andorra. Every athlete set his or her sights on the podium as the results from the day’s event determined which skiers–12 men and six women–will compete at the tour’s final contest in Verbier, Switzerland, as well as who received an invite to the 2020 FWT. After every skier laid it down, it was American Jackie Paaso and Frenchman Leo Slemett who stood on top of Andorra’s podium.
Despite missing the first stop of the 2019 tour due to an injury, Leo Slemett seems to have found his stride on this season’s tour with a podium finish at the third stop in Fieberbrunn, Austria, and now a first place finish in Andorra. Slemett threw down three 360s back-to-back-to-back on the top half of the course and exhibited extraordinary freeriding skills on the bottom half to claim the day’s victory. Sweden’s Kristofer Turdell kept things fast and huge from top to bottom with a backflip and 360 in the top section and massive airs in the middle and bottom sections. Andrew Pollard (USA) earned his second podium finish of his rookie season with a 360 off the top, charging through the mid-section and stomping a huge air near the bottom. Tanner Hall unfortunately had some trouble finding his feet after sending a big air off the bottom feature, but his stellar performances and podium finish at the previous stops earned the Ski Boss an invite to the 2020 Tour.
FWT veteran, Jackie Paaso, is known for going big and the American skier did just that with two back-to-back airs on the top section followed by two more massive airs in the middle and bottom sections, earning her an 81.00. Ariana Tricomi (ITA) kept her reigning overall title dreams alive with a second-place finish that included two stylish 360s and a big stomp at the bottom of her run. Following her brother’s performance, Jacqueline Pollard earned her second podium finish of her rookie season with one of the most fluid runs of the day, stomping every air in her route.
Stay tuned as the 2019 Freeride World Tour concludes in Verbier, Switzerland, with a weather window between March 23-31. With Markus Eder’s lead dwindling after the Andorra stop, and so many stellar performances from the ladies, this year’s FWT champion will be decided on-site at the circuit’s last stop of the year.