With two contest days of bluebird skies and perfect Caucasian powder, the Freeride World Tour athletes enjoyed great conditions at the fourth stage of the Freeride World Tour. At the Rosa Khutor ski station, the future alpine site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, Swiss skier Samuel Anthamatten and Austrian snowboarder Flo Orley took home the gold. Both winners have again overturned the overall Freeride World Tour ranking 2011. They are now leading the overall ranking, with two more contests to go before the 2011 Freeride World Champions will be determined in Verbier, Switzerland, 19 March.
Riders started early this morning to take advantage of a brief weather window for the second day of the Nissan Russian Adventure Sochi 2011. The great conditions in the Caucasian mountains enabled the athletes to put on a great show with playful riding including fluid, fast lines, numerous tricks, impressive backflips and 360s thrown off some massive cliffs.
Ski Men
After Day 1 featured skiers riding oversized rental boots and clothing borrowed from fellow competitors, the men charged ahead on Day 2 after receiving their lost luggage. Because of the missing equipment, riders and organizers had decided that, to be fair, Day 1 results would be eliminated. Only the Day 2 results determined the final score for the skiers. Season wild card Samuel Anthamatten (SUI) takes a first win at the Freeride World Tour with a perfectly stomped line including fast technical skiing and clean landings after all the numerous cliff jumps down the 400 meter face. The 2009 FWT champion Aurélien Ducroz (FRA) placed an impressive second despite a very painful torn quadriceps muscle. Stefan Hausl (AUT) finally took a well-earned podium place as third rider of the day.
Overall Ranking
The men skiers' 2011 tour is very interesting with new excitement after each contest and an ongoing change of the overall leader. A flabbergasted Anthamatten learnt that he is now leading the overall ranking going into the next stage at Fieberbrunn in Austria, next weekend (12 March), which is the last contest before the finals in Verbier, Switzerland 19 March. Aurélien Ducroz (FRA) is close behind, with Henrik Windstedt (SWE) snapping at his heels. Former leader Jérémy Prévost (FRA) fell today after a massive backflip and has fallen down to 4th place in the overall ranking.
Samuel Anthamatten (CH): "It's just great. This was one of the nicest days I have done in competition. We were up there on top at sunrise and then we skied a face with perfect snow conditions. I had a good run, jumping a lot of features and skiing hard in between. I am happy! Today a lot of the best guys took some huge jumps, you had to stomp it clean to get a good score....And for the ranking I just can't believe it! It's crazy. I learnt a lot from these guys in the last competitions and it feels really unbelievable to be on top!"
Snowboard Men
Somehow the snowboarders were able to escape the lost baggage conundrum and as a result rode the two outstanding days of competition featuring plenty of tricks and stylish lines. The results from two days of powder riding were averaged to achieve a total score for the event. With strong consistent runs on both days, Flo Orley (AUT) battled his way to the top of the snowboard category, closely followed by his fellow countryman Mitch Toelderer (AUT) in second. Jonathan "Douds" Charlet (FRA) won Day 1 with a stylish run including several tricks, however on Day 2 he took a fall after one of his jumps and in the end placed third overall. 2010 World Champion Xavier de Le Rue (FRA) placed second on Day 1 but broke a binding after a massive cliff jump in the middle of his run on Day 2 and could not finish his run.
Overall Ranking
In the men's snowboard division, today's win boosts Flo Orley into the overall top position followed by three-time Freeride World champion Xavier de Le Rue. Not far behind in third place it's a tie between Douds Charlet and Mitch Toelderer, which just goes to show how close the men's snowboard race is. These snowboarders have been consistent throughout the season and the Freeride world Champion title is very much up for grabs going into the final two events of the season!
Flo Orley (AUT): "I had so much fun these last few days with a lot of good riding and I loved the first contest day. But after all that riding I was so tired this morning, both physically and mentally, and could not find my normal riding flow. I am really happy that I still managed to do so well! It is crazy being first in the overall ranking. This winter I had some of the most fun snowboarding ever and if I keep having fun the good results will continue. Hopefully all the way to the end!"
Next Stage: Fieberbrunn, Austria
The fifth stage of the six-event 2011 Freeride World Tour will be the Swatch Big Mountain Fieberbrunn 2011 by Nissan on 12 March. As the final stage before the season finale on the legendary Bec des Rosses in Verbier Switzerland, and with so many athletes still in contention for the overall World Champion title, riders will undoubtedly be putting everything on the line in order to earn a coveted invitation to the Nissan Xtreme Verbier 2011 by Swatch (SUI).