The Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Verbier: The Perfect Ending to the Freeride World Tour
The 13th edition of the Xtreme in Verbier was held this weekend. The planet’s 37 best freeride skiers and snowboarders headed to Verbier to showcase fast, fluid and powerful lines down the challenging mountain. As the Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Verbier is the fifth and final contest of the Freeride World Tour, the four World Champions were crowned after the contest.
Tension was high, with the crown and a $100,000 prize pot at stake. The female riders were first on the mountain and impressed the crowd with fast, solid riding. Alaskan skier Elyse Saugstad has dominated the World Tour since she qualified in Mammoth in January and did not disappoint in the final. “I started entering freeride contests last year to get an experience for this year. It has been tough competition so it feels amazing! I am very happy to be part of the tour,” said the junior alpine Olympic Champion as she won the event and took the Freeride World Champion skiing title.
Swiss local snowboarder Ruth Leisibach won the Xtreme for the fifth time and the World Champion Snowboard Title. After a back injury at the beginning of the season she has had an amazing recovery: “I am really stoked for the World Champion title but the most important for me is to enjoy. We have ridden beautiful mountains during the tour. The competitions are interesting and a real kick of adrenaline. It is where you give it all and push the limits for the female freeriding.”
For the men, Swede Kaj Zackrisson had a solid winning run in the ski contest, but it was fellow countryman Henrik Windstedt who took the Freeride World Tour Skiing title. In the snowboard contest, Swiss boarder Cyril Neri took his first victory of the Freeride World Tour but it was not enough to knock Xavier de le Rue off the number one spot. The French snowboarder took home the Freeride World Champion 2008 title in the snowboard category, tightly followed by Swiss rider Alex Coudray and Austrain Flo Orley.
The Freeride World Tour kicked off in mid-January and consisted of five contests around the world; in Mammoth USA, Sochi, Russia, mobile in the Alps, in Tignes, France and finally this weekend in Verbier, Switzerland. During the events the riders have been judged based on three criteria: choice of line, control and fluidity and general impression.
Winners of the Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Verbier:
Skiers: Kaj Zackrisson (Swe), Elyse Saugstad (USA)
Snowboarders: Cyril Neri (Sui), Ruth Leisibach (Sui)
Freeride World Champions 2008:
Ski: Henrik Windstedt (Swe), Elyse Saugstad (USA)
Snowboard: Xavier de le Rue (Fra), Ruth Leisibach (Sui)