IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN! Cue the theatrics, ignite the fireworks, and get the champaign ready because the final stop of the 2022 Freeride World Tour has come to a close. The always exciting Xtreme Verbier marks the end of this years FWT season, but it wasn’t without a few good thrills. As dicy as conditions were, with the face experiencing different levels of sun exposure and snow pack, the riders performed absolutely incredibly. It was a day for the home town hero’s, as two Switzerland locals Sybille Blanjean and Maxime Chabloz, took the top spots in the women’s and men’s fields, respectively. These final results also solidified the overall champions of this years Tour. After an unreal run and his third win this year, Maxime Chabloz’s aggressive riding and areal prowess earned him the top spot and title of FWT22 men’s champion. For the women, Jessica Hotter was crowned the 2022 queen of Freeride, even though she took a nasty slam in this final event. Her wins throughout the season were enough to carry her to the top though, as she earned a hard fought and well deserved Tour title.
The ski women of the Tour put on an impressive showing, with a mix of rookies and veterans out to play. The Bec Des Rosses is always one of the toughest venues of the year, and with the snow being on the chunkier, more sun baked side, only four out of the six women competing finished and received scores. The veteran Swiss rider Elisabeth Gerritzen pulled together a fourth place run that consisted of more speed than anyone competing could even come close to rivaling. After her first air, she was forced to straight line it down the entire remaining 3/4 of the face. There’s no doubt that Elisabeth could have gathered more points if she had the opportunity to hit more features, but we’re just happy to see her in one piece after nearly breaking the sound barrier. Rookie Canadian rider Olivia McNeill found herself in third with a few strong airs and a well controlled run. Of course, Hedvig Wessel was not to be counted out, as she is constantly one of the most well put together riders on the Tour. Her massive air halfway down the course was landed almost effortlessly, and earned her a 69.33. But it wasn’t enough to oust the first lady to drop on the day, Sybille Blanjean. In her first time skiing the Verbier Xtreme the young Swiss native looked in complete control through her whole line, tackling it with both fluidity and power. After the dust had settled, New Zealand’s own Jessica Hotter was crowned victorious as the FWT22 woman’s World Champion. Her season on the Tour consisted of either intense crashes or powerful performances, with almost no in between. It just goes to show how passionately Jess skis, charging hard each chance she gets. Her victory was incredible well earned and hard fought for, and there’s no doubt she’ll be ready to get after it again next year.
Even though they were the last group to take the field, the ski men came out in full force with legs of iron. As was the case with the women’s field, the ski men category also saw a poignant rise in the young guns this year, as it was the hard charging Maxime Chabloz who took the win at Verbier. His line consisted of remarkable speed, big air, and a large 3 practically right into a lofty backflip. The 20 year old FWT rookie stormed onto the scene this year, finishing the season with three event wins, (Ordino Arcalís, Kicking Horse, Verbier), and taking the title of ski men’s World Champion. We saw another younger rider who is becoming well known on the Tour, Ross Tester, take second. Mostly known for his freeride expertise, Ross showed that he is as savvy a big mountain rider as anyone on this roster. While many passed right by a massive air near the top of course, Ross put it in gear and took the full 35 foot tank right the dome, landing with relative control and shedding speed to continue down the face. It was no less than one would expect, and you can rest assured that you’ll see boss man Ross front and center on the tour next year. We saw some veteran presence in the third place spot, with Carl Regnér Eriksson showing everyone watching what true composure looks like. Carl dropped in after a long pause in the action due to a heavy crash suffered by Aymar Navarro. Any individual watching that carnage and forced to sit with their own thoughts would undoubtedly be riddled with nerves. Never the less, the 29 year old Eriksson dropped in with the strength and prowess you’d expect from such a seasoned rider. Lacing up two well placed 3s and a laid out backy, as well a sizable and well controlled air, Carl showed exactly what it means to quiet the nerves and laid down a majestic run. AND SHOUT OUT TO ABEL MOGA for chucking a beautifully unnecessary superman front flip at the end of his top tier run. With so many great rippers packed in here, we hope you check out the full broadcast to watch all of the glory and see some of the action that we didn’t cover.
At the time of this publication, Aymar Navarro is resting well. He suffered a few bodily injuries and fractures in his shoulder, but he is in very stable condition and on the road to recovery.
Now that the 2022 Freeride World Tour is complete, it’s time to sit patiently as the FWQ results begin to formulate what next years FWT roster will look like. No doubt the competition will be as steep as ever, and hopefully we’ll see this exponential progression of creativity and explosive riding continue into the future.
For the full broadcast of all the Verbier Xtremness, complete with scores and rider selection, look no further. The Tour’s website has you covered. Click right here.
Ski Women’s Podium
- Sybille Blanjean (SUI)
- Hedvig Wessel (NOR)
- Olivia McNeill (CAN)
Ski Men’s Podium
- Maxime Chabloz (SUI)
- Ross Tester (USA)
- Carl Regnér Eriksson (SWE)
Images courtesy of the Freeride World Tour