3. 2. 2015
The skier in the golden bib, George Rodney had quite a comfortable position to reach out for the World Champion title. All he needed to be untouchable was a 5th place. He knew that he couldn't just play it safe though, especially having Jeremie Heitz in his heels, hungry for a win on home turf. George laid out with a big top air getting straight into the game and skied fast and strong down a technical line for a 3rd place finish and a score of 87.75, bringing the rookie the World Champion title after a very tight top of the field and a fantastic season on the FWT.
Aurelien Ducroz who has already won three times on this face and who was competing on an honorary wildcard did not let his fans down. He has now set his print in the history books as the only skier to have won the Xtreme Verbier 4 times with a score of 88.50.
The battle for the title was already won by Eva Walkner in Haines, Alaska and she took it easy.This lead to an opportunity for young Hazel Birnbaum of USA who had spotted the winning line. And the way she rode it got the crowds screaming in excitement twice! First when she stomped an exposed double up top and second after another big double on the bottom. She scored 88.00 standing out as the only woman scoring in the 80es.
Young Hazel was beyond ecstatic about her win.
Xtreme Verbier 2015: Ski Highlights
In the men's snowboard category the battle was very tight and a podium result was crucial to anybody contending to grab the title. The situation translated directly into what will probably be remembered as one of the most diverse and next-level snowboard freeride event of all times. As if paying tribute to the Bec des Rosses and its greatness and surprises, the riders incessantly showed new interpretations of the face, making for the supreme showcase of what is possible on a snowboard.
The man of the day, Jonathan Charlet stepped up to the challenge and delivered a mind-blowing run, perfectly mixing playfulness into his trademark big mountain style of riding, ending it up flying down the apron in what could have been the forerun for wingsuit pilot, Geraldine Fasnacht. An incredible score of 91.00 set Jonathan straight to the top. “I'm super stoked! Everything was just great. I realized a run without any pressure – extraordinary! Long live the Argentois,” the new World Champion said with a salute to his hometown.
The battle for the title in the women's snowboard category was between Shannan Yates of USA and a local rider Estelle Balet. While Shannan caught up with Estelle in Alaska, Estelle knew how to use her home advantage in Verbier. Opening the contest in the line that Nicola Thost, the event's winner also chose, unfortunately some slough lead her to a minor stop in the flow, but the difficulty of her airs were enough to give her the 2nd place with a score of 55.00.
Wildcard and former Olympic Champion, Nicola Thost from Germany showed that she has ridden off any wildcard intimidation and re-found her freedom to flow. She set herself apart today, with a score of 71.00 - 16 points more than number two!
Xtreme Verbier 2015: Snowboard Highlights
FREERIDE WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONS 2015:
Ski Men: George Rodney (USA)
Snowboard Men: Jonathan Charlet (FRA)
Ski Women: Eva Walkner (AUT)
Snowboard Women: Estelle Balet (SUI)
The 2015 season is a wrap and we can look forward to the next one. The top 16 Ski Men, 8 Snowboard Men, 7 ski women and 4 snowboard women of the final FWT ranking are directly qualified for the FWT 2016. Stay tuned!
Photos: © FWT / D.Carlier