After a week of weather delays and a change of venue, the penultimate stop of the 2019 Freeride World Tour went off today in Ordino-Arcalis, Andorra. Veteran competitor Jaclyn Paaso picked up the win on the women’s ski side, while Leo Slemett took first place in the men’s contest.
Anticipation was high coming into to today’s event, the results of which determine which riders (12 ski men and 6 ski women) will be heading to the season finale on Verbier’s legendary Bec des Rosses. The Andorra event was delayed twice, as fickle freeze-thaw cycles on a spring snowpack threw curveballs at competitors and organizers alike. After waiting out most of the weather window and switching the venue to a smaller, more easily controllable face, the Tour was finally rewarded with a good day on a welcome dusting of fresh snow — flipping the setting from spring slush to more wintry “race pow” conditions.
The "Quince Metros" venue offered riders less vertical than usual, but still plenty of options for creativity and getting airborne.
The “Quince Metros” venue — probably named that because it’s only 15 meters off the side of the nearest piste — offered competitors a new challenge at Ordino-Arcalis. Weighing in at 400 meters vertical, the new venue featured some steep chutes off the front and skier’s right, with a long ridge to skier’s left peppered with hits in a zone nicknamed “the playground” by riders.
Leo Slemett took the win on the men’s side with a slopestyle-inspired run through the “playground” section, lining up three 360s throughout a fluid and controlled run for a score of 91. He was followed by Kristofer Turdell in second, who laced a steep, technical line at the top of the venue before crossing into the playground section with a backflip transfer and a 360, and closing it out with a massive and clean new air at the bottom of his run. American Andrew Pollard rounded out the podium in third, leading off a hard and fast line through the playground with a stomped 360.
Leo Slemett nabs his first win of the 2019 season to keep the pressure on Markus Eder. Photo: J. Bernard/FWT
Other notable lines included that of France’s Wadek Gorek, who kicked off the contest with a massive cliff-drop backflip that was one of the ballsier moves of the day and kept him in podium contention until the final run. Mickael Bimboes also stomped a huge backflip while opening up the cross-slope transfer from the steep chute section into the playground, while Canada’s Liam Peiffer stomped three beautiful 360s and was looking to land a fourth, but took a tumble instead on the tricky bottom air. Drew Tabke, Aymar Navarro and Carl Regner all put down strong runs, but were unable to break into the podium.
Kristofer Turdell on his way to second. Photo: J. Bernard/FWT
Current men’s overall leader Markus Eder took an uncharacteristic crash on a backflip early in his run, but still holds a dominant lead for the season — though Slemett and Turdell have gained on his lead. Tanner Hall also crashed, a disappointing result for the Ski Boss after strong initial performances at the first two events in Hakuba and Kicking Horse.
Markus Eder remains ahead in the overall standings, but his lead has dwindled going into Verbier. Photo: J. Bernard/FWT
Looks like most of the men's field jumped into the podium shot. Photo: Mia Knoll/FWT
Men's Ski Results - 2019 Freeride World Tour Ordino-Arcalis
Men's Ski Overall Standings after Andorra
On the women’s side, Jaclyn Paaso made her first podium appearance of the 2019 Tour, and the top of the podium at that. Paaso laced a “classic Jackie Paaso” line, lining up airs with speed and composure including the biggest cliff drop of the women’s field. Behind her in second was current tour leader Arianna Tricomi, who landed two 360s through the playground section. Andrew Pollard’s sister Jacqueline Pollard grabbed the third-place spot with a fast and fluid line through the playground — making this the second FWT event in a row that both Pollard siblings have skied to the podium.
"Classic Jackie Paaso." Photo: J. Bernard/FWT
Missing the podium was Hedwig Wessel, who stomped a huge backflip on the transfer from the steeps to the playground as well as a big bottom air. But her bold antics were a bit loose, and the judges today tended to favor fluid and controlled runs more. Hazel Birnbaum also put down a great run, skiing fluid and fast through the playground to find some fresh, untracked drops.
Jacqueline Pollard matched her brother Andrew's performance again, this time in third. Photo: J. Bernard/FWT
Tricomi retains her lead in the overall standings, but she’s now got Jacqueline Pollard hot on her heels, with Hedwig Wessel not far behind either.
Women's podium. Photo: M. Knoll/FWT
Women's Ski Results - 2019 Freeride World Tour Ordino-Arcalis
Women's ski overall standings after Andorra
That’s a wrap in Andorra. All eyes turn now to the Bec Des Rosses in Verbier, where the Verbier Xtreme contest will close out the 2019 Freeride World Tour with a window from 23-31 March.