The 2018 Freeride World Tour is underway, after an exciting double header in Golden, BC. After inclement weather forced last month’s Hakuba competition to be re-staged, the tour ran two competitions instead of one at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and riders delivered with great snow and sunny skies. The first day’s competition was won by Davey Baird (USA) and Manuela Mandl (AUT), and the second went to Jonathan Penfield (USA) and Wakana Hama (JPN).

One of the event’s biggest stories was the participation of snowboard legend Gigi Rüff. Gigi’s video parts, including a signature project with Volcom (9191), have cemented his status as a big-mountain freestyle legend, and anticipation was high as he dropped into Ozone, the venue for the first day of competition. His run started beautifully, with stylish airs off the ridge and a massive front 3 early on. Unfortunately, he found some of the rocks lurking under thin points in the snowpack, and crashed mid-run. He finished sixth, and after some trouble with sluff management on the second competition day he finished fourth.

Gigi’s troubles reflect the challenges inherent to the Freeride World Tour. Riders only have one run, and do not ride competition faces before their judged descent. They must pick their lines after only visual inspection, and recognizing idiosyncrasies like thin points in snowpack or channels that will accelerate sluff can make all the difference. In Golden, where cold temperatures and dry climate shape the snowpack, mountain features form differently than in the regions Gigi typically rides– he might not have hit rocks with an Alaskan snowpack. Part of his progression as a Freeride World Tour competitor will include more nuanced run planning. He’s positive about the opportunity to learn; saying, “It’s quite a new experience. That’s what I’m here for… Just to see where I’m at. There’s a little bit of experience that I need to catch up on.”

With last year’s overall winner, Sammy Luebke, still recovering from a knee injury, Canadian Audrey Hebert recovering from an illness, and new competitors finding their legs, we’ve got a feeling that the 2018 tour is about to pick up momentum. For full results, photos, and videos, visit www.freerideworldtour.com

Results:
Freeride World Tour Kicking Horse (Day 1)
Men:
1. Davey Baird
2. Thomas Feurstein
3. Blake Hamm

Women:
1. Manuela Mandl
2. Anna Orlova
3. Marion Haerty

Freeride World Tour Habuka Restaged in Kicking Horse (Day 2)
Men:
1. Jonathan Penfield
2. Davey Baird
3. Thomas Feurstein

Women:
1. Wakana Hama
2. Erika Vikander
3. Marion Haerty

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