A storm moved in after the first 2021 Freeride World Tour (FWT21) stop at Ordino Arcalìs, which gave the competition venue a refresh after last Friday’s competition. While the fresh snow was much needed, the winds and sun made for patches of variable snow across the face which took a while for the competition field to figure out.
The first three athletes in the men’s skiing category all crashed after off-balance landings. The fourth rider of the day, FWT veteran Reine Barkered of Sweden, demonstrated his experience and stomped every air with authority, including a backflip early on. The judges recognized the run with a score of 86.00, giving him the score to beat.
FWT20 overall champion Isaac Freeland put up a run that could have taken the Swede out of the hot seat. Starting seventh, the American had a similar run to Barkered that included a stomped early backflip and charging through multiple drops through the bottom of the course, but his score of 81.33 wasn’t enough to take the lead.
France’s Maël Ollivier and Austrian Tao Kreibich also pulled together impressive runs. Ollivier, who was second during the first competition last Friday, started with a huge air at the beginning of his run and followed it with smooth skiing through technical sections, including a 360 mid-course. Kreibich mirrored Barkered and Freeland’s runs, but also added a 360 to a particularly tricky section of the course. Both of these European riders scored higher than Freeland, but not enough to take the top spot from Barkered.
Sweden’s Kristofer Turdell, who fell on his first air on Friday, came out of the gate swinging for this competition. He had one of the fastest, most fluid lines of the day, including a backflip in a unique zone and landing a big air at the bottom very smoothly. Turdell’s confidence and fluid skiing was finally enough to overtake his countryman Barkered with a score of 89.67.
Turdell didn’t get too comfortable in the top spot, however, as the second person to ski after him flashed the course even faster and with more confidence. That skier, Andrew Pollard of Alta, Utah, opened up his run very quickly with a big 360, and sent two more big cliffs straight to the finish. The American’s minimal turning, big airs, and complete lack of hesitation impressed the judges, who awarded Pollard a score of 94.67, the highest of the day.
Watch: Andrew Pollard’s Winning Run in Andorra
“I didn’t actually think I could win one of these comps anymore,” said Pollard after it was clear he won. “To win is pretty much the biggest honor I’ve ever had.”
With two competitions in the bag before the FWT21 moves to Fieberbrunn, Austria, the overall rankings for the men are starting to line up. Ollivier, who was second on Friday and fourth in today’s competition, is in the top spot, followed by Pollard, Barkered, and Freeland. Ross Tester, who won on Friday but crashed in his second FWT competition, is currently fifth overall.
Get the complete picture of the current FWT21 Ski Men rankings
FWT21 Andorra Event 2 Ski Women – Gerritzen Gets Redemption
The women skiers of the FWT21 were the last group to start on Wednesday, and once again proved that they have very little interest in skiing conservatively. American Tracy Chubb, who started second, skied hard through a couloir below a newly added start gate, and picked her way through some spicy cliffs throughout the rest of her run. Her score of 61.33 was good enough for an early lead.
Switzerland’s Elisabeth Gerritzen picked her way down a hard couloir, setting up for a big three that many of the male competitors had previously sent. She skied away from it on her feet and sent a few more airs through the bottom. It was one of the bigger 360s in recent memory in the women’s field, and her score of 79.67 put Gerritzen in the top spot over Chubb.
Watch: Elisabeth Gerritzen’s Winning Run at FWT21 Andorra Stop No. 2
“I am super happy, and not really used to it to be honest, as it’s only my second first-place run,” said Gerritzen after winning. “I am most happy about landing a 360 in my run. It’s been a big challenge to land one. When you put work into something and then it works out, it feels so good. This morning I had a lot of back pain and neck pain, but decided to go anyways and give it all in.”
Canadian Olivia McNeill and Swiss skier Maude Besse both went for glory airs like Gerritzen, but didn’t ski away from them. McNeill sent the biggest cliff of the day for the women but crashed on the landing. Besse went for a massive front flip early in her run, but also couldn’t keep it on her feet.
Monday’s winner, Hedvig Wessel of Norway, started very aggressively before getting knocked off balance in the hard couloir Gerritzen had taken her time with. Wessel tumbled through some scary exposure but was uninjured.
The final skier of the day, France’s Juliette Willmann, skied very fluid and fast through a number of tight sections but didn’t have any notable airs in her run. Her score of 68.33 was good enough for second place.
Like in the men’s competition, Willmann’s two second-place finishes in Andorra have given her the overall lead in the tour so far. The winners from the two ski women’s competitions at Ordino Arcalìs, Gerritzen and Wessel, are tied for second place, meaning it’s still completely up in the air for the overall title. The competition is likely to heat up even more in Fieberbrunn with the arrival of three-time FWT champ Arianna Tricomi to the field.
Check out the full list of the FWT21 Ski Women’s Rankings
The weather window for Fieberbrunn is scheduled for March 6 through 12. Like in Andorra, there will be two competitions if the weather allows. There will also be a cut in the athlete roster after the first competition in Austria based on overall points.