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Freeride World Tour

This American Rookie Could Upset the Freeride World Tour Championship at Verbier

After being canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the stage is set for the 25th edition of the Verbier Xtreme in Switzerland.

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Update 3/22/21 12:30 p.m. MST: Due to high winds, the competition has been moved to the “Petit Bec” face instead of the Bec des Rosses venue. Watch the video update for more info.

After a week of heavy snow that saw a total of three meters—almost 10 feet—fall in Verbier, Switzerland, the Freeride World Tour (FWT) has confirmed that the final event of the season, the Verbier Xtreme, will take place on Tuesday, March 23. The event is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. in Verbier (CET), which means it will air live in North America late tonight (2:30 a.m. EST, 12:30 a.m. MST).

The Verbier Xtreme started in 1996 when a group of snowboarders challenged each other to take progressive lines down the Bec de Rosses. Skiers were invited to join the competition in 2004, and four years later, with the arrival of the FWT, the Verbier Xtreme joined the tour as the final stop and served as the championship venue.

This year, the Verbier Xtreme rings in the 25th edition of the event. Last season, after celebrating the 25th anniversary by lighting up the Bec de Rosses, the actual freeride event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related: The Verbier Xtreme Meets Its Match

There will be no spectators allowed at the venue, and the event will be live-streamed exclusively on Red Bull TV.

Ski Competition Preview for the FWT21’s Final Event

Hedvig Wessel in the Verbier Xtreme start gate in 2019
Norway’s Hedvig Wessel in the Verbier Xtreme start gate in 2019. Photo: Dom Daher / Freeride World Tour

The competition going into the last stop of the FWT21 is tight for both the men and women skiers. On the men’s side, American rookie Ross Tester needs to finish in the top three to win the FWT21 Overall Title, but the playful style that Tester has demonstrated on the tour so far doesn’t match the usual winning lines that the Bec de Rosses is known for.

Note: Tester’s style is much more adaptable to the Petit Bec face.

“I’m stoked and scared to head to Verbier,” said Tester after his second FWT21 win in Fieberbrunn, Austria. “And [we] will see if I can find some good stuff to do there.”

Just behind Tester is a duo of Swedes, Reine Barkered and Kristofer Turdell, who have won the Verbier Xtreme before. If one of these Swedes win and Tester doesn’t finish higher than fourth, the Swede on the top of the podium in Verbier will also take the FWT21 Overall Title.

For the women, it will all come down to who wins the Verbier Xtreme to determine who will take home the overall title. France’s Juliette Willman, Poland’s Zuzanna Witych, and Norway’s Hedvig Wessel—the current overall points leader—could all snag the overall FWT21 title if they win in Verbier. If all three have bad runs, American Tracy Chubb or Switzerland’s Elisabeth Gerritzen could take the title instead.

Wessel, who has never finished higher than fourth place in Verbier, has proven her freeride prowess on the tour this year with more aggressive skiing. If she stays on her feet, there’s a good chance she could finally take the overall title.

A number of familiar names will be competing in Verbier as Wild Cards this year, including American Drew Tabke, Italian Arianna Tricomi, and Frenchman Leo Slemett. All three have won the overall title at least once before. Additionally, Austrian Tao Kreibich will be competing as an additional Wild Card because FWT20 Overall Champ Isaac Freeland is out due to injury.

The Wild Cards will not earn any overall points towards their total FWT rank, but each one of them could definitely shake up the results board and cause havoc for the frontrunners.

The live broadcast of the 25th edition of the Verbier Xtreme will start at 8:30 a.m. CET (2:30 a.m. EST and 12:30 a.m. MST) exclusively on Red Bull TV. SKI Magazine, an official media partner of the FWT, will have a full recap of the event as well.

Watch: Verbier Xtreme 2021 Venue Check