Mountainwatch | Events
Three divisions of stop thee of the Freeride World Tour were completed in Ordina-Arcalis, Andorra yesterday with Australian Michaela Davis-Meehan winning the women’s snowboard. It is the first win for an Australian on the world tour and follows on from Michaela’s second place finish in the opening event of the tour in Hakuba.
Michaela finished fifth a couple of weeks ago in Kicking Horse, and after three events she is second on the World Rankings leading into the final two events of the tour.
The Andorra comp was held on the second last day of the waiting period as a lengthy dry period in the Pyrenees had left the venue with a hard-packed, icy snow pack and a lot of exposed hazards. However, the forecast looked good for the end of the waiting period and organisers decided to wait, a good move as the snow came through, setting up great conditions for yesterday’s competition.
However, while the women’s ski and snowboard competitors enjoyed good conditions, it started snowing heavily during the last few runs of the men’s ski, the reduced visibility leading to the cancellation of the men’s snowboard competition. Hopefully that event has only been postponed, the FWT announcing that it “may” be held during the weather window of the Fieberbrunn event which begins this Saturday, March 7.
The Andorra comp kicked off with the women’s ski and once again the competitors pushed the performance level, taking advantage of the fresh snow and feature-laden venue. Norway’s Hedvig Wessel continued her world title campaign with a stellar run, sticking a massive backflip at the top of the venue followed by fluid and fast riding into three more nice airs for one of the most progressive runs the category has ever seen in Andorra. Jackie Paaso (USA-2nd Place) came out looking to defend her 2019 Andorra win and threw down a really impressive run, including a big drop and spread eagle at the top of the venue followed by two more huge stomps for the second podium spot. Elisabeth Gerritzen (SUI-3rd Place) put together a very fluid run that included a big stomp in the middle of the venue and a smooth bottom air for a nicely earned podium.
Michaela Davis-Meehan was the last rider on the start list and watched as word champ and current ratings leader Marion Haerty (France) set the standard with a typically smooth run that included three solid technical airs and flowing turns, earning a score of 75.6 from the judges. Haerty, who won the first two events of this year’s tour, held the lead until the second last rider, local Núria Castán Barón (Spain) rode with aggression and confidence through a technical line with plenty of features, scoring 79 and taking the lead.
That left Michaela who showed that she can perform under pressure, stomping a big air with an Indy grab at the top of the course before linking a number of airs with smooth fast turns, laying down an excellent run that scored an 80.33 and gave her the win.
It was an impressive performance and the win has tightened up the world title race with Michaela now 5500 points behind Haerty, setting things up for an exciting finish to this year’s tour. In regard to the world title, Michaela said in a profile piece filmed in Hakuba with Mountainwatch after the first event that she is, “In it to win it, I’m not there for second place, so I’ll give it a good crack. But my main goal is to be in the top four, so I can continue on the tour next year.”
In the men’s skiing the increasing snowfall may have reduced visibility, but the competitors pushed each other with speed, backflips and cliff drops the order of the day. France’s Leo Slemmet missed the first two events due to injury but returned with a vengeance in Oralis-Arcalis, skiing with speed and confidence, sticking the top technical straight line, followed by a huge and smooth backflip to transfer, followed by a big, floating 360, then another big air for a well-deserved win for the former world champion from Chamonix.
Slemmet had to work for the win after American rookie, Isaac Freeland, came flying out of the gate, sticking a huge switch misty flip off of the top ridge and then went straight into a smooth air with mute grab, which he followed-up with a fast middle drop, a big old-school daffy, another air and shifty, then finishing off with a perfectly stuck bottom air. He linked the moves with flow and speed, earning his second place and his first FWT podium. Following a win in Kicking Horse Golden BC, Kristofer Turdell (SWE-3rd Place) put together a huge run sticking the top technical straight line, a massive and perfectly stuck backflip, followed by another huge backflip, then clean bottom air to earn another 2020 podium.
There are two events left on the tour, the next in Fieberbrunn, Austria from March 7-13 before the tour wraps up in Verbier, Switzerland, March 28-April 5. The current leaders’ rantings leaders are Kristofer Turdell (men’s ski) Hedvig Wessel (women’s ski), Marion Haerty (women’s’ snowboard) and Victor De La Rue men’s snowboard.
It is going to be a great finish to the 2020 World Tour and both events will be webcast live on the Freeride World Tour site. Definitely something you don’t want to miss.