With near-perfect conditions and a legendary lineup of skiers and snowboarders, the first stop of the 2019 Freeride World Tour went off with a bang in Hakuba, Japan. Of course, Japan and January are synonymous with Japow, but it’s rare for a freeride competition to go down with such perfect snow. Everything lined up perfectly to allow athletes to tee off big tricks and stylish riding, leaving Travis Rice, Markus Eder, Arianna Tricomi and Anna Orlova atop the podium.
Freeride snowboarding god himself, Travis Rice, defended his 2017 win with a line featuring an enormous 720 spin to a technical finish. Austria’s Gigi Ruf continued his legendary career with a run featuring gigantic airs and a stomped 360 to second place. USA’s Davey Baird launched a huge and stylish method into a 360 that merited his spot on the podium in third place.
“I’m psyched. This style of riding and this style of contest, it’s a mind game really when it comes to it. I think at the end of the day what I was hoping trying to do was more or less the run I ended up landing. It’s such a stunning place here looking up to the valley, these mountains are truly majestic and unique you don’t see mountains like this anywhere in the world. So to be here with this backdrop and so many talented and incredible people from all over the world, it just feels so good to be part of it.” – Travis Rice
For the ski men, it all came down to who could throw bigger tricks. Italian FWT veteran Markus Eder narrowly edged out freeskiing founding father (but FWT rookie) Tanner Hall to a first place finish, Canadian rookie Tom Peiffer took third with a massive 360 and fast riding to the finish line.
“Thank you Japan, thank you Freeride World Tour! After last year’s struggle we finally had a good start in Japan with perfect snow and crazy stacked field of riders, i’m super stoked!” -Markus Eder
Last year’s FWT overall women’s ski champion Arianna Tricomi showed she is truly on top of her game with a stylish 360 followed by her usual technical mastery. Swiss rookie Maude Besse fearlessly skied into a steep untouched zone and claimed a second-place finish. Third place went to Swiss Elisabeth Gerritzen for a flawless run with two huge airs.
“I entered this competition with a really good feeling, I was looking forward to ski this face because it’s crazy playful and it was really nice and stompy! I really enjoyed myself skiing down and feels so good to finally have an event here in Japan. Looking forward to the next one already!” -Arianna Tricomi
Russia’s Anna Orlova dominated the snowboard women’s field with her first win ever after a highly technical run. Orlova edfged out Austria’s Manuel Mandl’s supers steep line and France’s Marion Haerty high-speed shredfest.
“I feel super good about my first win on the Freeride World Tour... so I definitely want to continue on this path this season!” -Anna Orlova
Kristofer Turdell punts an enormous backflip off the main feature in Hakuba. FWT/Jeremy Bernard photo.
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