Photo By: ©freerideworldtour.com / C. Margot
Verbier, the ski resort in the Valais region, will host the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier, grand finale of the Freeride World Tour 2009 on the mythical Bec des Rosses North face with a summit at 3222 meters altitude. Thanks to the great snow conditions this winter, the competition scheduled for Saturday, March 21 should be quite a show. After the three Freeride World Tour stops in Sochi, Russia, Squaw Valley, USA and Tignes, France, only the top eight men and three women were qualified in each category. They will be joined by several ‘Wild Cards’ as well as the winners from the Nendaz Freeride, Freeride World Qualifier and sister event to the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier.
The Freeride World Champions will be crowned after the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier
The Freeride World Ranking, a unique ranking system, newly implemented for the 09 season for the four stages of the Freeride World Tour as well as the Freeride World Qualifier events. This ranking, based on the three best scores per rider out of all the competitions, who would qualify for the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier. After the grand finale on the Bec des Rosses, the four Freeride World Champions 2009 will be determined.
The World Champion title in suspense for the world’s best riders
Although the title in men’s skiing is still up for grabs the Freeride World Champion 2009 in Snowboard is Xavier de Le Rue (FRA), who also won in 2008. He is of course the favorite for the grand finale in Verbier, where he lives for much of the year, and on a face that he particularly loves. The winner of the Nissan Freeride de Tignes last week, he continues to impress everyone with his line choice which are tough and fast. With Cyril Neri’s unfortunate injury (winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure 2009 and multiple winner of the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier), the second and third spots on the podium will be fought over by the Swiss contenders, Alex Coudray and Jonas Emery, as well as the Austrians, Max Zipser and Flo Orley. Another to watch out for, Matt Annetts (USA), the underdog who has done well in the FWQ events in the USA.
For the skiers, the door is wide open as the top 6 in the Freeride World Ranking can still mathematically win the title. Aurelien Ducroz (FRA), current leader and Nissan Sports Adventure athlete, is one of the favorites in Verbier as he won on this face in 2006 and is striving for the Freeride World Champion title. Right behind him, the competition is tough with the Swedes, Reine Barkered (winner in Squaw Valley), Henrik Windstedt (reigning Freeride World Champion 2008) and Sverre Liliequist (winner in Sochi) all battling it out for the title. The outsider for this event is Matthias Haunholder (AUT), who won last week in Tignes, as well as the Frenchmen, Sebastien Michaud (6th), Thibault Duchosal (7th) and Thomas Diet (8th), who took 2nd in Tignes.
In the women’s snowboard, Susan Mol (USA), winner in Squaw Valley, and Aline Bock (GER), winner in Sochi and this season’s revelation will fight for the title. Nathalie Zenklusen (SUI), currently 3rd, could also surprise us. However, for the grand finale, the favorite is definitely Geraldine Fasnacht who has already won several times in Verbier and made her come-back last week winning in Tignes.
For the women’s ski title, the Scandinavians should create some suspense with Marja Persson (SWE), current leader and Ane Enderud (NOR), currently 4th. However, they are closely followed by the Americans, Elyse Saugstad, winner in Squaw Valley, and Jess McMillan, winner in Sochi, who have the taste for victory. Caroline Meynet (FRA) who climbed to 2nd on the FWR after having won in Tignes, could also win on this technical face.
13 ‘Wild Cards’ granted for the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier, Switzerland, 4th & final stage of the Freeride World Tour
Joining the world’s 22 best skiers and snowboarders qualified from the FWR to take on the Bec des Rosses, Wild Card invitations were sent out to a certain number of athletes. One of which, Kaj Zackrisson (SWE), won the event in Verbier in 2006 and 2008; he is determined to go for another victory to top off his season. Cody Townsend (USA), revelation of the FWT 2008, will come back to the tour after filming for several weeks. He will try to step up to the podium as he did last year. Some other Americans including Griffin Post, Drew Tabke and the star JT Holmes will also battle it out on the Bec des Rosses and might surprise the spectators, just like Raphy Gillioz and Phil Meier from Switzerland, who will be skiing on their home mountain.
Raphy GILLIOZ – SUI
Griffin POST -USA
Kaj ZACKRISSON– SWE
Drew TABKE -USA
Richard PERMIN -FRA
Cody TOWNSEND -USA
Phil MEIER -SUI
JT HOLMES -USA
Ane ENDERUD -NOR
Jess McMILLAN – USA
Geraldine FASNACHT -SUI
Bibi PEKAREK – NZL
Eric THEMEL – AUT
4 qualified riders from the Nendaz Freeride, Freeride World Qualifier & sister event to the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier
Men: Björn Heregger -AUT (Ski) & Andre Sommer -SUI (Snowboard)
Women: Jen Ashton – CAN (Ski) & Maria Kuzma -NZL (Snowboard)
Judges for the Nissan Xtreme – Verbier 09
Snowboard: Berti Denervaud (SUI), head judge, Gunnar Ploner (AUT), Bérengère Moroc (FRA)
Laurent Besse (FRA)
Ski: Jon Orarback (SWE), head judge, Martin Winkler (AUT), Jean-Yves Michellod (SUI), Andrea Binning (AUS)
Verbier, an exceptional resort for winter sports, will host the Nissan Xtreme
Verbier is one of the world’s premier resorts for winter sports. Verbier lies at the heart of one of most extensive ski domains in the Alps, the 4 Valleys. It offers over 400 km of varied slopes at high altitude, including the most exciting off-piste terrain – a large part of it is lift-serviced! This attractive chalet-style village nestled in a sunny, picturesque setting offers the right combination of the finest skiing and the greatest après-ski. Freeriding started in Verbier in the mid 1920’s when a few pioneers walked up from the valley to ski in Verbier. Nowadays freeriding has become a mainstream and fashionable lifestyle in wintersports.
Verbier has been a partner of the XTREME since the first edition in 1996. The event concept was innovative, unique and enhanced Verbier’s core values. The spectacular images of the event that are streamed worldwide are the ambassadors of the leading position of Verbier in wintersports but also are a reminder that the access to this playground is limited to highly skilled riders in a secured environment.
Aurélien Ducroz (FRA), current leader of the Freeride World Ranking 2009 in ski
“I am really happy to lead the FWR because this is the first time that I am at the top. There is one stage left; it will be tough but I prefer to be in first place and keep my lead. I am going to try to stay consistent, to always be on the podium like I have been since the beginning of the season and of course to win. The Bec des Rosses is a really impressive and demanding face. I really like the profile and I hope to use it to make the difference.”
Marja Persson (SWE), current leader of the Freeride World Ranking 2009 in ski
“It is great news for me to lead the FWR but I really want to concentrate on each event rather than think about the title. I love the Bec des Rosses and I really want to win again after having won in 2007 and maybe even a Freeride World Champion title.”
Xavier de Le Rue (FRA), current leader of the Freeride World Ranking 2009 in snowboard
“I am going to Verbier in the exact position I have dreamed about. I wanted to go there leading so that I could take the exact run I wanted on the Bec des Rosses. I have progressed in the last two years and I want to see how that stands up to this mythical face that I can now ride with no apprehension. This second Freeride World Champion title confirms that I am on the right path. I was really able to express my talent this year and have had a great time.”
Géraldine Fasnacht (SUI), winner of the Nissan Freeride de Tignes
“The competition in Tignes was a chance for me to get ready for Verbier. I really enjoyed riding the Grand Balme. I can’t wait to get to Verbier next week. The face got a lot of snow in the past few days, so I think the upcoming competition will be awesome!”
Nissan Xtreme de Verbier 09 Program
Friday, March 20th
1pm – 10pm STREET FAIR Rue de Médran
4pm – 8pm SWATCH GET HOT DANCERS Street fair – main stage
5pm – 6pm RIDERS AUTOGRAPH SESSION Da Kine stand
6:15pm OPENING & BIB DRAW Street fair – main stage
Nissan Riders Award – 2 best lines of whole season Street fair – main stage
Saturday, March 21st
10.00am WOMEN’S COMPETITION – snowboard/ski Bec des Rosses
10:45am MEN’S COMPETITION – snowboard/ski Bec des Rosses
1:30pm AIR SHOW : RED BULL AIR RACE SHOW Col des Gentianes
2:00pm AWARDS CEREMONY Col des Gentianes
2:30pm AWARDS CEREMONY 4 WORLD CHAMPIONS Col des Gentianes
2:45pm Press Conference Nissan dome at Gentianes
4:00pm – 6:00pm SWATCH GET HOT DANCERS Main stage
5:30pm AIR SHOW Street Fair
5:00pm RIDERS AUTOGRAPH SESSION Da Kine stand
5:30pm – 6:00pm DRINK 7th SKY-RED BULL Nissan stand
7:00pm AWARDS CEREMONY NISSAN RIDERS AWARD Nissan stand
8:00pm – 10:00pm Xtreme Dinner – Buffet Pub Mt Fort
10:00pm – 11:00pm Party Pub Mt Fort
Red Bull Air Race Show – Saturday 1.30 pm
For the first time at 3000m of altitude, a plane from the Red Bull Air Race will make a 15 minutes show just after the Nissan Xtreme competition above the Col des Gentianes. German pilot Hannes Arch will put on a great show.
To check out Megan Michelson (editor at
)’s blog of the FWT coverage,