Cover Photo – Jeremy Bernard
The 2023 Freeride World Tour has come to a close today in Verbier, Switzerland as the fifth stop of the tour, the YETI Xtreme Verbier, has been officially canceled. With incredibly hazardous winds and snow conditions, the Tour was forced to cancel the final stop. While the news is disappointing, photos of the current fracture lines on the Bec des Rosses face (featured in the Photo Gallery below) show the magnitude of these slides, and they are no joke. The fine folks at the Freeride World Tour want to put on a great event as much as we want to see it, and as much as the athletes want to ride, but safety is the top priority.
The FWT released the following statement regarding their decision.
Verbier, Switzerland – March 28, 2023: Heavy snowfalls over the last 48 hours – including wind gusts of 135 km/h – have generated extremely hazardous conditions on the Bec des Rosses, making the venue unsafe for riding and leaving organizers with no option other than to cancel the iconic event. All lifts to the venue have been closed since Saturday, owing to the unremitting wind and avalanche danger, which is currently four out of five. Mountain guides, together with the Freeride World Tour founder and commissioner, assessed the situation from a helicopter yesterday, but safety teams were only able to access the venue this morning.
Unfortunately, during the safety works this morning multiple layers of snow released to form large, widespread avalanches, leaving terrain that is unrideable to even the most seasoned big mountain specialist. Today was the only viable option for competition and, with more clouds and snow forecast for the afternoon and the rest of the week, the Bec will continue to be too dangerous for FWT athletes, preventing the event from running.
Special shoutout to the one and only, the Mayor of Stomptown, the Swedish stud Reine Barkered. Reine has been on the Freeride World Tour of a stunning 15 seasons now. He has countless accolades and fantastic moments under his belt, including a FWT World Champion title in 2012. While we didn’t get to see him go out in style today, we wanted to thank him for all he has given and continues to give to the sport of freeride skiing. He recently did a wonderful interview with the fine folks of Downdays.eu which is well worth the read.
This is second time in history that the iconic YETI Xtreme Verbier has been canceled. It is a tough end to the season for all the riders who had put in so much effort and time to get the chance to compete for the title. That being said, the 2023 FWT World Champions were crowned based on the current standings, and there can be no doubt that their titles were hard earned. It was a terrific season, and after four terrifically competitive stops Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Valentin Rainer were crowned as World Champions.
Women’s Ski Podium Final Standings
- Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN)
- Molly Armanino (USA)
- Megane Betend (FRA)
‘I am speechless. Honestly, I did not realize this would happen today, but now I am world champion. I have been working so hard the last few months, but now I am feeling so proud of all the hard work and self-belief. To finish the season with this title means the world to me. This was my dream coming into freeride, but I never thought it would be possible this fast. I am so happy I made the switch to freeriding and the wonderful world of the FWT, and I am excited to what’s next – this is just the beginning.‘ – Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Men’s Ski Podium Final Standings
- Valentin Rainer (AUT)
- Maxime Chabloz (SUI)
- Andrew Pollard (USA)
“Unbelievable to win the title. I was prepared for a competition today, but Mother Nature was kind of on my side, I would say. I would have still wished to do a run here at Verbier, but we will next year! It was a really good season; everything from the first stop onwards was awesome – a dream season for sure.” – Valentin Rainer
The Yeti podium, AKA the YODIUM!
Click here for the official FWT recap of the cancelation and the crowning of your new FWT World Champions.
Images courtesy of the Freeride World Tour
Photography – Jeremy Bernard & Dominique Daher