words:: Ben Osborne
With the Xtreme Verbier set to take place tomorrow, we take a look back on the history of freeriding and how the iconic competition came to be
If you’re looking for the roots of freeriding, look no further than Chamonix, where as early as the the 1930’s a young French man named Emile Allais was pushing the limits of what was considered possible on skis. As Emile began to test the boundaries, the younger generation followed suit: visionaries like Sylvain Saudan, Patrick Vallencant, Bruno Gouvy, and Jean Marc Boivin began to tempt fate, tackling descents with dire consequences, and upping the ante.
Just as the freeride scene blossomed in Europe, the American freeride scene was not far behind with pioneers like Doug Coombs, Glen Plake, and many more making their presence known in the U.S. and across the world. The North American scene, along with the European scene set the stage for what would eventually become one of the first, and the longest standing freeride competition in snowsports: The Verbier Extreme.
Originally a snowboard-only competition, the event was kickstarted by Swiss-Brit Nicolas Hale-Woods. From 1996-2004,the competition thrived, but it wasn’t until 2004 when skiers were invited and the landscape was completely altered. Today, Freeride World Tour exists as a competition circuit with stops all over the world, along with a junior freeride circuit and a qualifier circuit with over 130 events worldwide.
Continuing A Tradition
To end off what has been a landmark season for the Freeride World Tour, the Verbier Extreme is set to go down Saturday, March 23rd. Check out the face inspection to see what the iconic Bec De Rosses has in store for the skiers and riders this year:
On the snowboard side of things, the men’s race is heated with Victor De La Rue looking to secure a tour championship, with plenty of competitors vying for 2nd and 3rd place for the year. For the women, Marion Haerty will need a win to fend off Anna Orlova and Manuel Mandl, both within range of taking the top spot with a win.
For the skiers, things are just as close. Mainstays Kristofer Turdell and Leo Slemett are vying for the top spot, while Markus Eder will need a top three finish to maintain his spot atop the podium. The women’s side of things is even tighter, with less than 1000 points seperating the top three consisting of Arianna Tricomi, Jacqueline Pollard, and Hedvig Wessel.
Needless to say, this competition, rich with history that spans almost a century, will be a sight to see once again. Tune in and visit www.freerideworldtour.com to see how you can watch! -ML