While President Putin was skiing on the opposite mountain, the freeride ski and snowboard elite were putting on a banging show at the second contest of the Freeride World Tour. The Nissan Russian Adventure kicked off in Krasnaya Polyana Sochi, the Russian host resort of the Winter Olympics 2014, with 43 riders proving their freestyle skill on a super-steep face in jaw-dropping scenery.
With great powder and a choice of three different starting gates, the riders selected varied lines to tackle the 350 vertical metre run, starting with the steep top section with narrow couloirs and big cliff drops, followed by the second freestyle section where consistency and creativity won the day.
Swede Henrik Windstedt skied the most radical line, starting with steep solid turns, dropping a ten-metre cliff, stomping the landing into a steep narrow chute, an impressive backflip and fluid skiing all the way to the finish line to earn him top podium spot. “I had decided to go for this line when I looked at it yesterday, but once up at the starting gate it looked really difficult. I decided to go for it anyway and it was just amazing. It suits me to start on smaller faces than for example the Bec des Rosses in Verbier [Nissan O’Neill Xtreme de Verbier], but I look forward to skiing some bigger faces for the next contest,” said Windstedt.
Alaskan skier Elyse Saugstad is used to skiing big, which she confirmed with a strong, fast and solid line. She started off jumping a cornice and executing a double jump in the middle of the run. “The contest conditions were perfect today, putting a good vibe among the competitors. The other girls were skiing really well, and I aimed to ski fluid and fast. It was a great face to ski on. The bottom half was maybe less extreme but a lot of work, that some might not have taken into enough consideration, which I took advantage of,” she said.
Snowboarder Flo Orley from Austria chose to start his line at the steepest part of the face, continued fast and fluid into a difficult couloir, and stayed original all the way to the finishing line, to win the men’s snowboard contest. “I am so happy,” said Orley. “From the top of the ridge the couloir looked so steep. It was probably around 55 degrees but the snow was so good. Here the snow sticks to steep faces and I rode it without mistakes. I got so confident after sticking the couloir that I totally relaxed for the next section of the run and really enjoyed it. The venue was short but I think we all agreed on that it was very challenging and really beautiful”.
In the women’s snowboard comp, Bibi Pekarek from Austria had the cleanest run with an original, committing entrance, clean jumps and fast riding at the lower part of the run.
The next stop of the Freeride World Tour will be in the Alps with the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro, starting in Chamonix on 24th February. The Big Mountain Pro is a unique one week mobile event, including three contest days, taking the riders to some of the greatest mountain faces of the Alps, depending on where snow conditions are the best.
Check out news, updates, photos, riders and events info on the Freeride World Tour website.