The first stop on the 2016 Swatch Freeride World Tour was completed this past weekend at a hidden gem in a tiny country in the Pryenees Mountains, Vallnord-Arcalís in Andorra. Storms rolled in just a few weeks before the event, thankfully depositing enough fluffy white to offset Europe’s dry start to winter.
Blue skies, high clouds, and stellar conditions allowed skiers to throw huge tricks and stylish runs in the opening event. The Coste Negre face, the competition zone, featured dense rock outcroppings, terraced step-downs, and pinner couloirs on 400 vertical meters, maxing out on a gripping 40-degrees.
The men’s competition saw stout lines and mouth-gaping tricks resulting in “ohs” and “ahs” from the crowd. Sweden’s Kristofer Turdell edged out Swiss great Jeremie Heitz’s lightning fast run with an impressive line down the face that ended with an enormous air. Russian Ivan Malakhov finished close on their heels, less than one point from second place. In the women’s comp, USA’s Jacklyn Paaso nabbed the podium’s top spot by doing what she does best, going huge. Passo stylishly hucked everything in site and dominated the field while Austrian Eva Walkner and Swede Evelina Nilsson took second and third.
Remaining stops on the FWT schedule:
- February 6–Chamonix Mount Blanc, France March 17–Haines, AlaskaApril 2–Verbier, Switzerland
- March 6–Fieberbrunn Kitzbühel Alpen, Austria
By Paddy O'Connell