Click Here To Watch The Video From Round 1
The 2009 Rip Curl Australian Freeride Pro lived up to its reputation as Australia’s premier on mountain event during the first round today.
Held in the expert terrain of Thredbo’s Bluff, the event attracts the country’s best skiers and snowboarders, all keen to test their ability in a mix of natural drop-offs, rocks and cornices, mixed in with a few man-made jumps and log rails.
The Rip Curl Australian Freeride Pro is all about the riders skills in natural terrain, having the focus, knowledge and flow to ride the mountain as opposed to many events which are held in the controlled environment of terrain parks and half-pipes.
Today’s conditions were anything but perfect, strong winds, variable visibility and inconsistent snow challenging the riders even further. There were some brilliant performances and some big crashes, a result of the go for it attitude displayed by competitors in all divisions.
In the hotly contested open men’s ski, Jindabyne duo of Boen Ferguson used their local knowledge to the fullest and qualified first and second for tomorrow’s finals, mixing their runs with a number of technical tricks, big airs and aggressive use of the terrain.
Top Australian pro skier Chris Booth (Sydney, NSW) qualified third and also pulled off the move of the day – a perfect “Rodeo 7”, an off-axis 720 degree spin, after hitting a natural rock drop-off. Defending champ Sam Foster (Jindabyne, NSW) also qualified for tomorrow’s final after finishing fifth.
In the open men’s snowboard Jindabyne’s Ben Mates had two excellent runs and qualified first, not surprising given the amount of time he spends riding the Bluff. Mates and second place getter Pete Long (Sylvania, NSW) popped a couple of big backflips off the top jumps, before a butter 360 off the bottom rocks.
In the open women’s local riders Saph Farrell (Jindabyne, NSW) and Laura Williams (Thredbo, NSW) set the standard, qualifying first and second. Defending champion women’s ski champion, Mount Buller’s Zoe Jaboor, is again the one to beat after qualifying first, ahead of Sydney’s Hannah Fisher.
The junior skiers and boarders turned on an outstanding display, all approaching the line with aggression and boosting some big airs. Cooma’s Ryan Cook qualified first in the junior ski while Perisher rider Ben Randall won the junior board.
The finals of the Ripcurl Australian Freeride Pro will be held in the Bluff tomorrow and with better conditions and lighter winds anticipated it will be another display of progressive all-mountain snowboarding and skiing.
The Rip Curl Throwdown Invitational is an additional event that will be held under lights tonight at slopeside Thredbo Village. The Throwdown event, which is held in a purpose-built terrain park, is a crowd pleaser with an exciting mix of rails, jumps and boxes ready to challenge the invited male and female riders. The competitors are also the judges in this unique event, deciding together who takes out top honours at the end of the night.
Last year’s winners were Boen Ferguson (Jindabyne, NSW), Tom McGrath (Canberra, ACT) and Erin Tanner (Canberra, ACT) in the Open Men’s ski, Open Men’s snowboard and Open Women’s snowboard respectively.
Rip Curl seeks the assistance of competitors and experienced terrain specialists, such as Thredbo’s Terrain Park Manager Charles Beckinsale, Rip Curl snowboarder Russell Holt and Rip Curl skier Andrea Berchtold, when planning the special course design.
The Rip Curl Australian FreeRide Pro is part of the Thredbo FreeRide Series with proud media partners Mountainwatch.com, Snowboarder and Powderhound Magazine.