For more photos of the Nissan Mammoth Challenge, click here.
MAMMOTH, CA - (News Release - Jan. 26, 2008) — After a difficult week with snow, wind, and poor visibility the first contest of the Freeride World Tour, the Nissan Mammoth Challenge, was finally held in California on Friday, Jan. 25. With cloudy skies and light snowfalls, but enough visibility for riders and judges to carry out the contest, many of the biggest names in the world of ski and snowboard impressed the judges and local public with great action on fast, solid lines and huge air.
55 of the world's best skiers and snowboarders contested in the first ever contest of the Freeride World Tour in Mammoth, California. With the massive snowfalls of the previous days, giving at least two feet (60-80 cm) of fresh snow on the face, the competitors rode fast and convincing and went for huge air with impressive cliff drops, landing in between the pine trees, cheered on by the thrilled local public at the bottom of the face.
The competition was as tough as it gets. The only chance for podium was to perform impeccable runs with no errors and perfectly executed jumps. Each rider carried out two different runs on a double face with two optional starts and many different line options, with interesting terrain and big cliff jumps. The accumulated points from both runs set the final result.
After a face inspection with binoculars at the bottom of the face, all the competing skiers and snowboarders hiked to the top of the mountain. The 16 participating women went down first alternating skiers and snowboarders, followed by 37 male riders. After the first run, the competitors took some time at the bottom of the face to exchange their emotions and feelings. While checking their second line they gave each other advice and helped their fellow riders to choose the best options.
The experienced and oldest skier on the World Tour, 34 year old Seb Michaud from France, was not sure what line to ski while checking the face through his binoculars, but apparently his long experience rewarded him as he finally had two awesome runs and ended up winning. Again this showman proved to the crowds that a good show is just as important as the choice of line, throwing off a backflip right before the finishing line. For his second run he chose an original line taking a double cliff in very steep terrain. The Swedish wild card Henrik Windstedt impressed the judges and took second place. The Swede might not be as well known in the Freeride circles as winner Seb Michaud and third placed fellow countryman Aurélien Ducroz, but the former freestyler has a quiet reputation of being one of the world's most all round skiers, which he definitely proved to his more well established freeride mates with fast, unexpected and nerve biting runs. Aurélien Ducroz, a solid, well known freerider, took a well earned third place ending one of his runs with a frontflip right before the finishing line to the public's delight. The five American participating skiers put on a great show, riding very fast and dropping huge cliffs.
In the women skiers' category the line up proved to be the best out there with a level that has improved rapidly over the last years. American Jesse Mc Millan draw a straight line from the top to the bottom, never hesitating and offering the fastest run of the day in the female group putting her on the top step of the podium. She was followed in the ranking by Caroline Meynet from France with a powerful but more classic style than third placed Marja Persson (SWE), who once again proved that she probably is the most explosive female rider at present, but had a small fall and lost some points which put her on third place.
On the snowboard side, local rider Steve Klassen had a huge fan club in the cheering publlic and was applauded during his entire run. He finally finished at 4th place in a close competition just behind three reknown European snowboarders. Cyril Neri from Switzerland, who is ranked number 1 on the world ranking list, finished at third place with an impressive backflip starting his run. His fellow countryman Alex Coudray took most points with the two most original lines of the day winning the men's snowboard class and 10 000 USD richer in prize money. Flo Orley from Austria took second place thanks to a super fast and steady second run.
Famous snowboarder Géraldine Fasnacht from Switzerland landed her first jump in such deep powder that she had to crawl out of her hole. Besides that, the choice of her lines, her fluidity and solid runs brought her to the 1st place, just ahead of local snowboarder Tiffany Noel on 2nd place. French snowboarder, Bérangère Moroc, coming straight from the qualifying contest Nissan Mammoth Quest a week before, managed to take 3rd place.
Legendary skier and mega star Glen Plake has been present in Mammoth since the qualifying contest, Nissan Mammoth Quest, last week, and was judging the skiers during the Nissan Mammoth Challenge. His fellow judge Dino Raffaud (FRA), co-organiser of the Nissan Freeride de Tignes, commented the high level of the contest: "The level on this first event of the Freeride World Tour is simply huge, it promises an incredible season in terms of suspense and show. What we saw today is a real pulse test of the high level freeride in competition, a tasty mix of pleasure and commitment...
Next stop: Sochi/Krasnaya Polyana in Russia
The second event of the Freeride World Tour will take place in less than a week's time on the other side of the planet, in Russia. The contest, with 44 participating riders, will take place in Krasnaya Polyana/Sochi, the host resort of the Winter Olympics 2014. Famous for its legendary heliskiing the contest will consist of two runs where the second one will be heli-lifted to one of the west Caucasus magnificent mountain ranges with the top half of the field (22 riders in total). The first possible contest day is Jan. 31.
Check out news, updates, photos, riders' and events' information at www.freerideworldtour.com.