With 21 competitors scheduled to ride including reigning FWT18 champion Markus Eder and SkiBoss Tanner Hall, there was no doubt that spectators were in for quite a show during the Freeride World Tour (FWT) event at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on Tuesday.
American Berkeley Patterson was the first rider out of the gate. He entered the course with a technical 360 and then barely turned for the rest of his run, instead using huge transfers and cliff drops with technical landings to moderate speed. Just like at the FWT19 Hakuba stop, however, Patterson’s high energy and creativity did not impress the judges, and they awarded him a score of 80.33, signaling that the rest of the riders would need to step it up for big scores.
The second rider out of the gate, American Tanner Hall, went straight to a zone that was completely untouched. After a few glory powder turns through a choke, Hall launched a massive 360 with a clean landing. Despite his super clean skiing, it was obvious his line was just a little too simple to earn a huge score.
“Skied the line I wanted to, just didn’t do the trick I wanted to but still had so much fun today and everyone killed it and was good to see!” Hall said in an Instagram post.
Hall was certainly not the only one focused on that particular line. New Zealander Craig Murray, 20, went straight to the same zone, but before dropping off the corniced entry, he stopped and started waving his arms. The commentators, and likely just about everyone watching, believed that Murray had missed his line and was waiving for some sort of re-do.
Instead, Murray was getting everyone’s attention before spinning a 360 off a top air, then arcing a single airy turn to a cliff bulge. The Kiwi launched a massive flat-360 and took it straight to his feet. The judges awarded him an extremely strong score of 93.00, putting him at the top of the leaderboard.
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“I did a big flat 3 at the bottom air that I think people were stoked on and that felt really good so I’m happy with that.” Murray said at the end of the day. “ It went pretty much according to the plan and I was really happy about it."
Three riders later, Italian Markus Eder skied to the same zone and followed Murray’s line. He took the top air straight and sent an even bigger 360 off the cliff bulge, landing on his feet further down the slope and passed Murray’s bombhole. With less tricks but a similar technical line, the judges gave Eder a score of 92.00, and Eder was also awarded the Peak Performance Radical Moment Award.
The only skier that notably impressed the judges without going to the same zone as Hall, Murray, and Eder was local wild card and winner of the FWT18 Kicking Horse Event, Logan Pehota. The Canadian spun two 360s during the upper half of his run, and then pointed it off a large, run-out cliff, landing cleanly on his feet. Like Patterson, it seemed Pehota didn’t make a single turn throughout his run, and the judges awarded him a 91.00, which proved good enough for third.
The FWT19 heads to Europe to finish the Tour, with the first of three stops in Fieberbrunn, Austria, and with a weather window that starts on February 22. Keep up-to-date with all of the FWT19 action on SKImag.com's FWT page, as well as SKI Magazine's Facebook and Twitter channels, and the FWT Website.