The final event at the FWT19 Verbier Xtreme was the men’s ski division. With the sun intensifying behind the Bec des Rosses face, the snow remained soft and fast for the guys. Sweden’s Kristofer Turdell needed to win to maintain the Overall Title from last season, and anything short of that meant Italian Markus Eder would win the FWT19 World Championship.
The first skier to drop was Frenchman Wadeck Gorak. Fresh off a massive backflip in Andorra two weeks ago, Gorak told SKI Magazine the day prior to be prepared for his line, and backflip, on the Bec des Rosses.
Gorak sent the first two airs of his run fluidly, and, as promised, delivered a massive backflip on his bottom air. Just like in Andorra, the cliff had a down-sloping take off, meaning gravity was working against him. He took the rotation straight to his feet, and almost immediately raised his arms in celebration as he straight-lined to the finish area. His score of 92.00 was certainly going to be tough to beat.
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The next rider, France’s Mickael Bimboes, flashed the face in six turns, setting a speed record and earning the Peak Performance Radical Moment Award.
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The third rider, Turdell, took the same three airs as Gorak, but faster. He almost lost an edge on top of the third air, but still rode away cleanly. His high score of 87.66 wasn’t enough to overcome Gorak, so it was apparent that Eder was to win the FWT19 Overall Title.
Eder, who was sixth out of the start gate, started on the opposite side of the face, following the lead of nearly every snowboarder. He demonstrated his ability to go so much higher than all the other riders, and landed both a 360 and backflip, but it was apparent the judges thought the other side of the venue was better overall. His score of 82.66 would be good enough for 6 on the day, but more importantly, enough to win the FWT19 Overall Title.
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Two riders later, France’s Léo Slemett took a similar line to Eder, but took the same tricks much deeper and with more speed. It was the highest score of the day on the looker’s right side of the Bec des Rosses, and was good enough for third place overall.
"It's the Bec des Rosses. It's the meat of the FWT competition... Everybody says before I came here that's it's dangerous, and that's true," Gorak said after the competition. "It's amazing [to win here]. I think ten people today rode at the top and came to win. It's me today, and I'm in disbelief. It's amazing."
For the FWT19 Title, Eder took the top spot, followed by Turdell in second and Slemett in third. Considering Turdell was the FWT18 Overall Champion and Slemett was the FWT17 champion, it was a very impressive podium of skiers.
"Verbier is always such a roller coaster of emotions because the whole season builds up to Verbier and there’s just loads of emotions," said Eder. "The will to win just gets more and more intense. When I was up there I had my friends in the finish area calling me World Champion, that was insane and then I could just enjoyed my run even more!"
SKI Magazine is an Official Media Partner for the Freeride World Tour. For more freeride action, catch up on the FWT19 season on SKI’s FWT Page.