Photos courtesy Freeride World Qualifiers

The Hakuba Valley 4-star is in the books, and it went down under classic Japanese conditions.  The venue, called ‘The Mix’, was a perfect stage for competition, an excellent sample of the dream terrain Japan is famous for.  What’s more, ideal snow conditions let the riders get loose, despite poor visibility.  Golden boy T. Rice won the day on the men’s side, followed by fellow Fourth Phase shredder Shin Biyajima in second and Spanish ripper David Vincente in third.  On the women’s side it was Russia’s Anna Orlova in first, Michaela David-Meehan in second, and American Erika Vikander in third.  The international podium showed the tour’s wide draw, and FWQ’s Asian premiere was a rich gathering of the freeride community.

One of the coolest elements of the contest was the local participation.  Japanese rippers were out in force, with guys like Yuta Kobayashi blending classic powdersurf style with ambitious forays into the more technical sections of the course.  Many riders fell, having some difficulty with the flat light and rolling terrain.  Still, the best in the field managed fine– Anna Orlova’s winning run featured a big banked air in some of the worst light of the day, and Travis had no problem putting down a massive backside 7 to frontside 3 that showed the judges’ readiness to reward progressive freestyle riding.  You can check the full event replay below–  Men’s snowboard is at 4:15 (Travis Rice winning run at 21:57 results at 46:23), and women’s is 01:54:46 (Anna Orlova winning run at 02:03:32 and full results at 02:10:07).  Keep scrolling for more images from the event, as well as the official word from FWQ.

January 17, 2017 – Hakuba, Japan – History was made today on the the snow-stacked terrain of Japan’s premier ski destination, Hakuba, Japan, situated in the Japanese Alps. Fifty-six riders representing the international freeride community descended on the renowned ski town to open a new chapter in the book of freeride as competitors faced off during a 2 stars qualifier and a 4 stars main event.


The hallmark event presented a shining opportunity for the most talented skiers and snowboarders of the international qualifying tour to take advantage of the venue’s abundant snowfall and fantastical freeride terrain. After a week of intense snowfall, the skies briefly cleared enough to provide riders with a chance to compete on the 270 vertical meter venue featuring spines, treed sections, and intricate cliff zones.

Snow flurries gradually diminished as the day progressed which provided improved visibility for the first group of riders which included the legend of backcountry freestyle, Travis Rice (USA), whose incredible run featured a massive stomped 720 back and 360 front, making him the undisputed champion of the day. It was a daunting task to challenge Rice’s run, but local rider Shin Biyajima (JAP) held his own with a powerful run and stylish grabs. Shredding through the dense features of the forested venue, David Vicente (ESP) came in third place with a run that exemplified control.

Despite slightly reduced visibility and intermittent snowfall, the women snowboarders exemplified progression with extremely powerful runs like Anna Orlova’s (RUS) aggressive line that put her on top of the podium. Michaela Davis-Meehan (AUS) came in second with an authoritative line that beat Erika Vikander’s (USA) smooth riding while battling challenging conditions.




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