Welcome one and all, ladies and dudes, (even the occasional snowboarder), to FREESKIER’s world renowned recap of THE Freeride muthafu*kin World Tour. The 2022 FWT season kicked off with an absolute firecracker of a competition, hosted in the balmy region of Baqueira Beret, Spain. This was the very first FWT stop to take place in Spain, and it seemed to go off without a hitch. Conditions were variable, but with soft snow blanketing the venue face and plenty of sunshine to go around, the riders were in full force.
Abel Moga, a rookie on the tour this year, was an easy crowd pleaser for obvious reasons. He grew up in Baqueira Beret, and since this is his home resort, the crowd was out in heavy numbers to support him. For a reference point, watch the broadcast of his run, and stay tuned until the end. As the camera pans before he enters the finish line, the immense crowd can be seen, on their feet and FIRED up for the hometown hero. This was for good reason too, as the young gun ended up throwing down a beautiful line, complete with a monstrous cliff drop and lofty 360 to close it down. It was enough to land the stoked Spaniard a well deserved second place finish on the day. Since this was Spains first time ever hosting the FWT, it’s only fitting that we saw a double backflip thrown for the first time in the history of the tour. Swedish wildcard Max Palm took it to the moon, and secured a first place finish with a spicy double back in the upper section of the course, and capped his run off with a beautiful step down 3 just for good measure.
We saw plenty of action from the women on sticks out there, as they dissected the steep face. Reigning tour champion Elisabeth Gerritzen (SUI) put down an absolute champion caliber line, linking turns smooth as silk, but unfortunately got caught after stomping a straight tank of a cliff, and just barley slipped out onto her side. With her standards for performance being so high, she most likely left unsatisfied, but ready to return with a vengeance. It was 20 year old Olivia McNeill (CAN) out of Whistler, BC who took the top spot with a crispy clean line, checking off two big airs on her way down the face.
But it wasn’t all glamor. A few good tumbles were taken on this precarious face. Jessica Hotter (NZL) and Jaqualine Pollard (USA) took heavy spills. Jessica had a heater of a fall over a large cliff halfway through her run, after she landed one of the bigger airs we saw out there. Jaqualine had a wicked front punch upon landing, and finally stopped tumbling 20 or so feet down the hill. Veteran riders Reine Barkered (SWE), and resident Spaniard / certified cliff junky Aymar Navarro were caught off guard on different sections. Reiner came up just short a textbook backflip, while Aymar, in classic style, went for the most stomach dropping line on the mountain, and just lost it as he came back down from orbit off a large hit. He was going about mach 12 and managed to tumbled through a treacherous couloir, so it was good to see him shake it off with a smile on his face. Each of these riders are champions, as none of these falls are easy to stomach. No doubt these icons will return ready for more action at Stop 2.
There were plenty of show-stealing moments throughout the day, so we try and summarize the best we can. But for a full broadcast replay, complete with athlete listings and highlights, click right here.
Men’s Ski Podium
- Max Palm (SWE)
- Abel Moga (ESP)
- Craig Murray (NZL)
Women’s Ski Podium
- Olivia McNeill (CAN)
- Hedvig Wessel (NOR)
- Zuzanna Witych (POL)
Courtesy of Freeride World Tour