This season on the Freeride World Tour consists of 5 total stops. First in Chamonix, France, then to Fieberbrunn, Austria and then Valnord, Andorra before making a cut that decides who makes it to the next stop in Alaska. This year was a new format due to the addition of a stop in AK. Normally there would be four stops before making a cut for the finals in Verbier, Switzerland. For 2015 the season has two cuts that you have to make to make it to the finals in Verbier.
It's always been a bit stressful having to be in the top 7 after four contests in order to re qualify for the following season and then top 5 if you want the chance to compete in the finals. This year with the AK stop you had only 3 instead of four contests to place yourself high enough in the rankings to qualify for next year, qualify for the 4th stop in Alaska and still be in the running to compete in the finals. Having been on the FWT for 6 seasons now it was especially important for me to make it to this new stop in Haines, Alaska the only FWT stop in U.S.A. in 2015!
My season started off a bit rough. I had received word the day before the first contest that a friend of mine had passed a way in an avalanche. It was very difficult for me to get my head in the right place to compete the following day. I ended up skiing a very conservative run that landed me in 7th place. I then headed to Austria for the next stop of the FWT. With my head in a better place I skied the line I wanted to ski, with the goal of making the top spot of the podium in mind. Unfortunately I ran into some issues in the landing of my second cliff that resulted in a 6th place finish. Below you can get an in depth look into that contest run:
Coming into Andorra, the last stop before the first cut I was sitting in 6th place. The top 7 ladies make it to AK and re qualify for the 2016 season. This was a very important stop that would decide how the rest of my season was going to go down. I had a great line in mind for that day and felt pretty confident about my run. Once again my goal was to win but in the back of my mind I knew I couldn't risk too much or I'd lose my spot on the tour. The ski ladies were the last group to drop in. It had been warm and sunny all day and then the clouds came in. Suddenly the spring conditions that the men had encountered had changed and the snow became crusty and much harder to ski. When I dropped in I instantly noticed the change in the snow. I decided that if I took my original line my success rate was going to be too low to chance. Unfortunately I didn't really have a solid plan b. I ended up inspecting during my run which meant I was a bit too hesitant. I stayed on my feet and skied a safe, more conservative run that put me in 4th place. Just shy of the podium I was happy to get some good points for the overall ranking but not too happy about my skiing.
After 3 stops I'm sitting in 5th place in the overall ranking on the FWT. That means I've qualified for the 2016 season and the inaugural FWT stop in Haine's Alaska! It hasn't been the best season so far for me but it also hasn't been the worst. I'm really hoping to continue the trend of improving my results at each contest this season to end on a good note!
Soon I'm off to North America for the 4th stop of the Freeride World Tour in Haine's, Alaska. I haven't been there since I was a rookie and I'm looking forward to come back with the experience I've gained since my first visit to Haine's in 2008!
To learn more about the Freeride World Tour visit: http://freerideworldtour.com/