By: Maximilian Ritter
After three action-packed European stops, the coastal mountains of Haines, Alaska, hosted the fourth and only North American stop of the 2016 Swatch Freeride World Tour. Riders were treated to a brief weather window after nearly a week of heavy snow and poor visibility. The start list was limited to 15 men and six women based on results of the first three events of the season.
The largest competition face of the season, simply nicknamed The Venue, featured nearly 2,000 feet of 45-degree Alaskan spines and cliffs covered in velvety powder. Competitors were flown to the top of the face via helicopter, adding to the adventurous feel of the event. This is Alaska, after all.
The men dropped in first and massive runs (with some spectacular crashes) were delivered by all contestants. Canadian Logan Pehota threw down with his signature style, mixing in a 360 with technical mastery down some of the steepest terrain the mountain had to offer, securing him first place. Second place went to France’s Loic Collomb-Patton for linking air after air with loads of speed. USA’s Drew Tabke was the only rider to ski the far left side of the venue, making the most of his experience skiing steep spines in Alaska. He took home third for a beautifully fluid run featuring a huge backflip off a wind lip.
Austria’s Eva Walkner dominated the women’s field, straight lining a chute with a huge cliff in the middle of the venue. Sweden’s Matilda Rapaport claimed second after demonstrating her technical skills in the rowdiest terrain and stomping a huge air. Third place went to Italian Arianna Tricomi for a highly technical run in virgin snow on the venue’s far right side, despite a backslap on the last hit that cost her the win.
The final event of the season will go down on April 2, 2016 at the legendary Swatch Verbier Extreme in Switzerland, where a world champion will be crowned.