Verbier XTreme: Kaj Zackrisson Wins

After a weather delay on Saturday, the final event of the Freeride World Tour went off today for the 24 male skiers and snowboarders tackling Verbier's legendary Bec de Rosses. Sweden's Kaj Zackrisson won today's event, while France's Candide Thovex takes the top honors for the overall tour.


On Saturday, after the women skiers and snowboarded competed in the Verbier XTreme (check results of that event here), the weather blew in and the men’s field was postponed till a later day. Today was that day, as it dawned perfect conditions in Verbier, Switzerland, this morning.

Some first descents were thrown down on the North Face of the Bec de Rosses and in the end, Sweden’s Kaj Zackrisson took home first place in today’s event, his third win at this event. “The Xtreme is my biggest goal every year,” Zackrisson said after winning. “It means a lot to me. When I train in the autumn I think of this face and this competition. I am always very nervous before the contest and have a hard time sleeping the night before. This year it was even more difficult as I had a great run on Saturday and had to redo my performance. I was so focused for my first run (Saturday) and it was hard to switch on once again. My favourite riders of the day were Xavier de Le Rue, always pushing the limits but always with such control, Sverre Liliequist because he opened a new really committed line, and Aurélien Ducroz because he just skied an exceptional run.”

Kaj was followed closely by France’s Aurélien Ducroz and Candide Thovex, who got second and third, respectively. “It was so tight between the first two riders Kaj and Aurélien,” said ski judge Seb Michaud, an injured FWT rider. “They skied more or less the same line but Kaj jumped one more cliff where Aurélien skied around. For the rest they both skied fast, fluid and stomped all the jumps in the extremely committed terrain, and taking the huge “Gilles Voirol” cliff in the middle clean. Just amazing.”

“The level just increases every year,” Michaud continued. “Today the riders went faster than ever and very few fell. Each year we wonder if there will be any new lines, and once again several new lines were opened, like the original line of Sverre Liliequist [from Sweden, who placed fifth].”

The overall winner of the Freeride World Tour went to French freeskier Candide Thovex—in his first year on the four-stop FWT, he earned three spots on the podium. “Every one says I am the rookie, but I’m not,” said Thovex. “I have always been freeriding, since I was a kid. I am a skier. Freestyle, freeride, I ski whatever I enjoy. I have been inspecting the Bec des Rosses face really thoroughly. I was quite nervous and impressed by this big, committed face. It was really impressive at the top. Xavier de Le Rue gave me a lot of advice at the start – he was so confident and I was pretty nervous. I chose an easier jump in the end as my legs were so tired. I wanted to do the Freeride World Tour because it is just great to ski with riders like Auélien Ducroz, Kaj Zackrisson, Henrik Windstedt and Julien Lopez. I am astounded to be surrounded by such amazing athletes.”

The two male Freeride World Champions were awarded with a Nissan Qashqai, and the winners today went home with $10,000 each from the total prize purse of $206,200 for the Freeride World Tour 2010.