Snow, sun and skiers battled it out today in the Val Thorens snowpark.
The story of the first day at the SFR Tour is a beautiful story, not just about skiers flying through the air and grabbing their skis, but also about how people with a lot of motivation, determination and some help by the weather can make something happen in the worst conditions possible.
The story begins with a heavy snowfall that filled the balcony during the night and continued on into the morning. Fresh snow, as you know, is not great for holding a slopestyle competition. Thanks to the incredible effort of the shapers to clear the course, assisted by event staff and even the judges, the contest was able to take place—but not without some people being pessimistic, and for good reason.
Practice started around noon, and the weather started to play along. With the snow and cloud disappearing, the the awesome powder face right next to the snowpark lift was looking her best, a big white field of pleasure. While half of the skiers rode the snowpark the other half enjoyed some fresh turns and backflips into the powder.
Those who skied powder were wise to do so, because if the pow field on one side of the lift was all about fun, the slope course on the other side was kind of stressful. The first heat started off with clouds and knuckled landings, while the second heat ended with trashed landings from the earlier hits.
“It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” one of the skiers from La Clusaz said to his coach.
“Be more aggressive if it’s dangerous,” the coach answered.
But mainly it’s the decision to have only four runs of practice AND only one qualification run that really makes things hard for the skiers, both physically and mentall. And to complicate things further, due to the weather, there’s a chance that the score from this one run might go on to count in the final… Don’t get it wrong, those decisions were the right thing to do, and we can be glad that the staff were smart enough to propose it, and the riders courageous enough to accept it.
“I know what I’m doing, so I didn’t try to do something to go crazy, but just land my run,” said Maxime Meunier, one of many riders who used this strategy including favorites Oscar Wester and Fabian Bösch. Hugo Laugier, for example, ended up sixth in the second heat with no doubles.
Around 5pm, the cold started to set in, and the skiers headed down to take a rest before this evening’s rider’s meeting, which will provide more information about the next mission—because what happened today was a real-life Mission: Impossible, and event owner Olivier Cotte (aka Ethan Hunt) and his team of specialists made it possible. Full respect for all who give so much to the sport!
Check the results and stay tuned, more news will come soon.