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Despite spring-like snow conditions, the second competition of the 2022 Freeride World Tour went off in Ordino Arcalis, Andorra on Sunday, Jan. 30, with the best competitive freeriders in the world taking on a brand new competition face on the resort’s Pic De Les Planes.
If you were the betting kind, you may have gone all in on a FWT veteran like Kiwi Craig Murray or American Jaqueline Pollard to have the prowess and confidence to pull off the trickiest lines and airs in untested terrain and variable snow conditions. But just like those skiers, you would have bet big and lost big because Ordino Arcalis gave us another set of new and unexpected winners: FWT newbies Maxime Chabloz from Switzerland and Jessica Hotter from New Zealand.
The rocky and cliff-strewn Pic De Les Planes gave skiers no shortage of opportunity to demonstrate their technical skill and comfort in the air, and while all athletes seemed keen to prove themselves in the second competition of the season, relatively few were able to pull off their ambitious lines. That includes big names on the Tour like Murray and Max Palm, the rookie winner of the Tour’s first competition in Baqueira Beret, Spain. Both athletes went into their runs with guns blazing and crashed hard after carrying too much speed into and out of massive airs.
In only the second FWT competition of his career, Chabloz, on the other hand, found the right balance between speed, epic airs, and clean, technical skiing. He combined a massive gap jump with a stratospheric backflip and textbook 360 off three separate features to put together the most unique line of the competition and take home his first FWT victory.
Watch: Maxime Chabloz’s winning run
“I chose a creative line where not many others had gone, and my backflip was bigger than I planned, but it still worked out perfectly,” Chabloz said. “I am very happy with my first victory on the Freeride World Tour—I’m going to give it my all in Canada and hopefully win another one.”
Americans Ross Tester and Andrew Pollard rounded out the podium in second and third, respectively, after throwing down in some of the most technical terrain of the Pic De Les Planes.
On the women’s side, it was a similar story, with frontrunners like Canada’s Olivia McNeil, winner of the Baqueira Beret competition, barely hanging on and staying on their feet after gaining too much speed and air off their chosen features. In the end it was Hotter, who finished tenth in Baqueira Beret, who found redemption by linking multiple airs and clean skiing to take the win on Sunday.
Watch: Jessica Hotter’s winning run
“Today was all about adjusting my line to the changing conditions, and I’m so happy with how it worked out,” Hotter said. “My goal this year is just to have fun, and I’m really excited for Kicking Horse, I love it there.”
Switzerland’s Elisabeth Gerritzen, 2021 FWT World Champion, came back from a tough crash in the first comp to finish second, with American Lily Bradley rounding out the podium in third.
From Europe, the FWT now heads to Kicking Horse, B.C., with competition at the mainstay venue scheduled for Feb. 12-17 depending on weather and snow conditions. According to the new competition format for 2022, Kicking Horse will serve as the last chance for athletes to amass enough points to qualify for the two final events of the Tour in Fieberbrunn, Austria and Verbier, Switzerland. After Kicking Horse, only the top 12 men and top 5 women will continue on in the competition, while the rest will be cut.
Read more: FWT announces big changes for 2022
With two competitions now in the books, Chabloz now leads the men’s standings with 16,560 points, with Pollard sitting in second place with 13,040 points and Swede Carl Regnér Eriksson in third with 12,720 points. As it stands now, FWT legend Kristofer Turdell, who sits in 14th, would not qualify for the final two competitions of the Tour.
Norway’s Hedvig Wessel leads the women’s standings with 13,120 points. McNeill sits in second with 12,095 points and Hotter is in third with 11,340 points. After this weekend’s results, Wildcard athlete Lexi duPont and Pollard, a veteran of the Tour, are among five women who would not make the finals cut.