With over 10,000 votes cast in Round 1, eight men and eight women have risen to the top of the ranks of the riders nominated for 2021 European Skier of the Year.
ESOTY voting now moves into the head-to-head stage. Get to know our quarterfinalists below, then head to the voting page to cast your vote.
Elisabeth on her way to the win at the 2021 FWT Ordino-Arcalís #1 stop. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
A veteran freeride competitor, Elisabeth paid her dues with years of grinding in the qualifiers and four years on the World Tour circuit before finally claiming the overall title in 2021. She did it with the help of a first-place finish at the Ordino-Arcalís #2 stop and a clutch win at the finals in Verbier that vaulted her to the top of the rankings. Beyond the contest faces, she filmed for a freeride segment in the Faction movie Roots and completed the Patrouille de Glaciers ski tour from Zermatt to Verbier.
Mathilde bagged her third X Games Big Air gold in 2021. Photo: Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images
Mathilde’s big highlight in 2021 was no doubt landing the first switch double cork 1440 in women’s competition to claim her third X Games Big Air gold medal. She made a strong showing at FIS events as well, taking silver in slopestyle at the World Ski Championships and third at the Corvatsch World Cup slopestyle. After all that competing she still found some time to film, scoring the closing shots of the women’s segment in the 2021 Faction Skis movie, Roots.
Sarah flying high at the Audi Nines. Photo: Klaus Polzer
Ms. Hoefflin was in fine form in 2021. She posted solid results on the World Cup, including silver medals at the Corvatsch and Stubai slopestyles and the Chur Big Air. Off of the FIS circuit, she gathered accolades at the Absolut Park Spring Battle video contest and was voted Ruler of the Week at Audi Nines. Sarah was also prominent on the silver screen, with her own fondue-licious short project Moitié-Moitié and a hammer-tossing appearance in the Faction movie Roots.
Tess sends her signature dub 12 mute at the Chur Big Air. Photo: Ethan Stone
Already a competitive force to be reckoned with, Tess rose to her potential in 2021, picking up podiums left and right on her way to the overall World Cup slopestyle title. She took second at the Kreischberg Big Air and won the slopestyles in Aspen and Corvatsch. In the fall she picked up right where she’d left off, taking first and second at the Big Airs in Chur and Steamboat respectively, and winning the Dew Tour slopestyle to boot. That’s a whole lot of hardware for one calendar year.
Kelly in action at the Steamboat Big Air. Photo: Mike Dawsy/US Freeskiing
After taking third place at the World Cup Big Air in Kreischberg, Kelly’s 2021 season was cut short by an injury at the X Games, where she tweaked her ACL. She was back in form by the fall, however, snapping up the win at the Stubai slopestyle, claiming third at the Copper Mountain halfpipe and second at the Dew Tour halfpipe. That’s podiums in all three disciplines—big air, slopestyle and halfpipe—even in an “off year” for the Estonian phenom.
Giulia scored a big win at the Kreischberg Big Air. Photo: Noah Wallace
The third member of Switzerland’s female freeski power trio, Giulia started strong in 2021 with a win at the Kreischberg Big Air before a broken arm at the X Games knocked her out for the rest of the season. Undeterred, Giulia started filming for a webisode series called “The Journey” to document her road to recovery, and after a summer of hard work, she was back in form in time for the fall contest grind.
Arianna on her way to the bronze at the Xtreme Verbier. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
The season after three-peating as Freeride World Tour champion, in 2021 Ari was content to let other women take center stage in the contest scene. Instead, she spent more time filming, logging footage for the Legs of Steel movie Long Days as well as producing her own short project “Na Vita de Nëi” (that’s “The snow life” for those of you who don’t speak Ladin). And even though contests weren’t her main focus, she still bagged second place at the prestigious Xtreme Verbier.
Hedvig tackles the Bec des Rosses. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/FWT
A former Olympic moguls skier reinvented as a freeride powerhouse, Hedvig shook up the field in her first season on the Freeride World Tour with her rock-solid technique and game-changing backflips. She claimed the win at the first of two events in Andorra, took second in Fieberbrunn and third in Verbier, and barely missed the overall title by a mere 20 points. On the video side, she filmed a segment for Matchstick Productions’ “The Stomping Grounds” and stayed busy with her own webisode series, Hedvig’s Way.
Dani B filming for his "spring mix."
The young swaglord from Stubaital has been turning heads for the past few years with his growing talent and impressive style, and now he’s broken into the ESOTY quarterfinals. He won silver at both the Junior World Ski Championships Big Air and Slopestyle contests last year, as well as silver at the European Cup slopestyle in Leysin. Video-wise, you can check out his 2021 spring mix, Russia recap “The Score,” and the Penken Park homie-fest “Penks.”
Ferdy flipping out over the X Games slopestyle. Photo: Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images
Ferdy might well be the smoothest operator at work on the world’s slopestyle courses today. His highlight result in 2021 was his silver medal at the X Games. But he also racked up podiums on the World Cup circuit, taking second in Corvatsch and third in Stubai. Video-wise, Ferdy logged a segment for the SLVSH movie Peep The Game and a SLVSH rematch with Quinn Wolferman, an unorthodox X Games Real Ski, and keeps his Capeesh Supply channel well-stocked with content.
Markus filming in Zermatt for "The Ultimate Run." Photo: Legs of Steel/Red Bull Content Pool
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know why Markus Eder is on this list. Currently closing in on six million views on YouTube, Makke’s epic two-year project “The Ultimate Run” showcased the former Freeride World Tour champ and consummate all-rounder at his finest, shredding everything from steep Swiss faces to South Tyrolean castle walls, with some park and street tossed in for good measure. It’s rare that a single project will put someone in the running for Skier of the Year, but no doubt about it: this is that project, and this is that someone.
E-Dollo doing what he does best. Photo: Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images
How could we hold ESOTY without E-Dollo in the house? The season after dropping his two-year movie project Salute, Henrik played it cool both on the competition and filming fronts. In Henrik’s case, “playing it cool” still meant taking third at the Aspen World Cup slopestyle as well as winning X Games Knuckle Huck. On film, he led the charge for the Harlaut Apparel team video WUN.
Haven't seen "Land of the Darker Sun" yet? What are you waiting for?
A darkhorse entry to the ESOTY quarterfinals, Joona might be your favorite skier’s favorite skier. His buttery-smooth style is equally at home in powder as in the streets, as shown in his landmark 2021 solo edit “Land of the Darker Sun.” Just in case you’re not convinced, make sure to take in the Keesh Spring Meeting and his Jiberish “Walk in the Park” for additional evidence. The jury finds Joona guilty—of being a criminally smooth operator on two planks.
Max floats a cork 7 blunt. Photo: David Malacrida/Red Bull Content Pool
The sole freeride competitor to make the men’s quarterfinals, Max dominated the Junior Tour in 2021 with wins at the Verbier 3* and 2* events as well as at the Freeride Junior World Championship, earning himself a ticket to the current season’s World Tour. And lest we typecast him as a contest jock, let’s not forget that in 2021 Max also put out this highly entertaining personal project, “FRIHET.”
Matěj throwing down at Audi Nines. Photo: Fischi
Matěj broke out in 2021—a breakout that’s still ongoing as I write this text. The young Czech-turned-Austrian phenomenon first put us on notice by winning the Junior World Championships Big Air with a switch quad 1620. Shortly thereafter he was voted Ruler of the Week by his peers at Audi Nines. Then he kicked off the 21/22 contest season by winning the first two big airs in Chur and Steamboat back to back. Last but not least, he logged a healthy share of jaw-dropping clips in Faction’s Roots.
Candide coming in hot. Photo: Timo Jarvinien/Faction
Do I really need to write anything here? Candide is universally acknowledged as the GOAT and as such, would make it into ESOTY even if he didn’t strap on skis all year. That being said, we actually saw quite a bit from Candide in 2021, as his infrequent footage drops seemed to pick up the pace: “A bit of skiing,” hot laps in the Crans-Montana park, and Swiss trees, for example. Candide doesn’t put out content often, but when he does, people drop whatever they’re doing to watch him.