Less than a week after the Ordino Arcalís event in Andorra, the Freeride World Tour moved to Fieberbrunn, Austria to take on the second-to-last event of the season. For some skiers, it’s the final chance to qualify both for the final event in Verbier and the FWT for next season, while for other riders, the Fieberbrunn stop proved to be a chance to show what the next generation of freeride skiing looks like.
To start, both FWT20 rookies Jack and Kevin Nichols put down confident, solid runs, while tour veteran Léo Slemett and Fieberburnn Wild Card Markus Eder crashed attempting tricks. But things got interesting when FWT20 rookie Hank Bilous, who has already earned a podium earlier this season in Hakuba, put down a creative run that combined steep slough management, riding a section of exposure switch, and big airs out the bottom that put him in the top spot.
Bilous was unseated by American FWT20 rookie Isaac Freeland, who started his run with a big opposite-edge 360 into a huge cliff drop, followed by a fluid run through the fall line with hardly any turns. His score of 94.67 would usually be a sure-win, but then something magic happened.
Craig Murray found the top of the podium during the FWT19 season in Kicking Horse, where he upstaged the likes of Eder and Tanner Hall with an incredibly fluid and fast run with tricks. His FWT19 season was cut short in Fieberbrunn last year, however, when he misjudged a take-off and landed directly on a rock after over-rotating a 360.
Seeking redemption, Murray put down an incredibly fluid run with a 360 in exposure, followed by a flat-360 directly into a double drop. He then sent two more big straight airs on the bottom half of the venue, not risking falling on more tricks as Eder had earlier, but still taking them big enough to impress. His score of 96.67 put him above Freeland and on the top of the podium, where he would stay.
“I’m super happy it worked out, can’t believe to be sitting on the hot seat,” says Murray. “It’s been a tricky season for me but I‘m super stoked to have trusted myself today, trust my skiing and put myself on the line. I think I’ve been a bit lucky on some places for sure but it feels really good, especially from last year.”
When the smoke cleared, the FWT announced the athletes qualified for Verbier, and, judging by the point totals, nearly every athlete in the top 5 has a chance to take the overall title in Switzerland.
See how the women did in Austria: FWT20 Fieberbrunn Ski Women Recap
That competition is scheduled to take place during a weather window between March 28 to April 5, 2020.