There are a few more things that have to be said about the ski men’s competition. First of all, the general level has come to incredible heights and it takes an outstanding performance to even make it into the top third of the result list. Ben Richards and Maxime Chabloz had similar runs to Tenra Katsuno and even Andrew Pollard was in that range, but a bit less commitment sent the smooth operator from the US down into tenth place. Showing strong skiing but simply with one trick less left Dillon Flinders and Jackson Bathgate out of the Top 10. Rookie Martin Bender from Switzerland, Swedish phenom Max Palm and defending tour champion Valentin Rainer from Austria would surely have been in this Top 10, but a tumble each left them just above all the riders with a “no score” on the results list—that is when you loose a ski or two during a crash. There were six riders without a score and that indicates what commitment it takes to place well on the FWT these days.
Those crashes were of different type, though. Abel Moga and Blake Marshall skied well but then couldn’t hold it together at a landing and consequently went on huge terrain-clearing flights with no real chance to stick those—fortunately they aimed for snowy landings. Young Canadians Marcus Goguen and WeiTien Ho, on the other hand, went for super ambitious yet actually solid runs and were simply a bit unfortunate on their last landings towards the bottom of the face. They are both riders that should be taken into strong account when betting on future FWT results. Particularly rookie WeiTien Ho went for a unique line which was super exposed, navigating this terrain with mind-blowing coolness and technical prowess to then just sending a 360 too far over a big cliff, resulting in a classic explosion on impact.
And finally I want to mention another rookie, Kendall Goodman from Utah. Kendall seems to have taken the torch of true freestyle spirit from Finn Bilous. Sporting a super-sized outfit he opted for a unique approach, finding some untouched snow on the way with fast, smooth turns and a solid air in true big mountain fashion, before he threw a crosscourt flatspin with good style over a wind lip mid-face, found a spot for a butter 360 over a side cliff—for which he had to slow down a bit—and finally pulled a screaming semen on a wind lip close to the finish line that some riders used for backies (but without too much influence on the score, it seemed). A refreshing performance—and in my very personal opinion it would have deserved a bit better than the eighth place finish it got, but it is simply not the type of approach that the FWT is after, and understandably so.
The next tour stop according to schedule is in Andorra next week, but taking the current snow situation in the Pyrenees into account it is less than likely that this event will happen—at least not in that mountain range. Let’s see what surprises the FWT might have in store for all freeride fans; however there is a good chance the second tour stop will be in Canada. The Kicking Horse Pro event in Golden, BC is scheduled February 14-20.