We witnessed the true power of strategic improvisation this weekend. With poor snow causing a worthy cancelation of the Freeride World Tour’s (FWT) original First Stop in Baqueira Beret, Spain, the team was left with a tough choice: should they bag the first stop and move on to round two or do you pack up and move? Being the stellar team that they are, the FWT organizers decided to rally the troops and head for familiar territory; Verbier, Switzerland. As we saw on multiple different runs, the snowpack was still quite punchy in Verbier, with skiers often being thrown a bit on their landings. Riders had to adapt to the conditions, but with good coverage and very durable snow, we got ourselves the show we had been waiting for. The Freeride World Tour is back!
In the Ski Women’s field, there may have been more air time than snow time. Our top three women logged some serious flight miles on several features throughout the course. One of the American favorites, Molly Armanino, grabbed third place with a creative line that took her into fresh snow on the looker’s left side. She found a rather snowboard-influenced line that had been ridden by a few of the boarders, but she made sure to put her signature touch on it. Among other drops, Armanino found a technical double that required a left turn in the middle. High roller in the building! 21-year-old Manon Loschi of France secured second place. The young gun qualified last year but was forced to sit out due to injury. She clearly wanted to start the season strong and showed no sign of reserve. Three massive cliffs combined with powerful turns at speed earned her a 94.00, 14 points better than the next closest Armanino. It was Poland’s Zuzanna Witych who took the day, however. Her strength was on display as she strong-armed her way through the course, even gapping Loschi’s bomb hole on her final air. Shoutout to Justine Dufour Lapointe for her giant backflip. That soft base we mentioned earlier threw her for a loop as she put the trick to her feet and was greeted with a front punch tumble. We can’t wait to see her stomp it next time.
“I have no words; I am so surprised. I loved this line from the first time I saw the face, but I didn’t expect it to be that big. I never imagined the scenario of leading the rankings, and I really want to keep pushing myself. I love Verbier – it’s such a mecca for freeriding and home to so many good riders, and so to win here is just mind-blowing!”– Zuzanna Witych, 2024 Verbier Pro winner
In the Ski Men’s field, we were treated to a stacked podium, as one could expect. The roster was 22 contestants deep, each one posing a true threat. Shout to Japanese ripper Tenra Katsuno who dropped first and held the hot seat for quite a while, eventually finishing fourth. We can’t wait to see more from him. It was veteran Kirstofer Turdell who delivered a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type run to grab third place. The Swedish stud is no stranger to massive airs and controlling speed like none other. He lined up a couple of huge cliffs and capped the run-off with a lofty backflip. Style guru Finn Bilous of New Zealand snuck into second place, beating our Turdell by one whole point. His freestyle background blended with a love for big mountains makes him such an entertaining skier to watch. Bilous stuck a giant step down 3 as well as a laid-out flat spin, linking both tricks back to back off neighboring features. Max Hitzig took home first place. In his second season on the tour, the German riding out of Austria brought the heat. He floored it into everything he eyed up, stomping a large right 3 without hesitation! Of course, we’ll dish out some FREESKIER bonus points for his beautiful kosak to end the run.
“It was a really special and technical run. Normally, I like flatter terrain, but I enjoyed the steep slopes here, it makes you concentrate. I wanted to start with a solid run this year, and my plan is to have fun this season and try my best. I look forward especially to the new stop in Georgia.”– Max Hitzig, 2024 Verbier Pro winner
Below, you’ll find the podium results, winning runs and a full photo gallery of the event.
Click here to watch the full coverage of Verbier Stop One on the official FWT website.
BREAKING: Conditions have once again impacted the FWT schedule, and Stop Two in Andorra has been canceled as of January 30th. The next stop is Kicking Horse, CA.
Ski Women’s Results
🥇 Zuzanna Witych (POL) 97.67
🥈 Manon Loschi (FRA) 94.00
🥉 Molly Armanino (USA) 80.67
Ski Men’s Results
🥇 Max Hitzig (GER) 93.67
🥈 Finn Bilous (NZL) 89.33
🥉 Kristofer Turdell (SWE) 88.33
Photography – Jeremy Bernard
Courtesy of the Freeride World Tour