By David MacKinnon photos Dom Daher
The 2019 Verbier Xtreme went down today, and it was a classic. The final stop of the Freeride World Tour, the event drew the best from competitors and saw boundary pushing runs in all categories.
Marion Haerty, who had secured the title of Freeride World Tour women’s snowboard champion coming into the competition, rolled into her victory lap hungry. She claimed she was looking for the “line of her life,” and with a mid-run 360 and a technical double-stager, that’s exactly what she found. This is Marion’s second tour title, and her fourth win of the season. Anna Orlova took second, and Manuela Mandl finished third.
Jonathan Penfield set the tone for the men, dropping first with what would be the winning run. He rode with a calm demeanour, confidently taking big airs including a backside 360. Penfield hails from the US, but now calls Squamish home. His win reflects focused riding in the Whistler backcountry, where he’s been honing his skills throughout the season. Dropping after Penfield was wildcard Steve Klassen, a 54-year-old Freeride World Tour veteran. Klassen won the inaugural Verbier Xtreme in 1996, and has five career wins at the event. He started his run from the top of the Bec des Rosses and dropped a massive cliff from the top of the Dogleg Couloir onto the mountain’s sunny east face. Following up with more airs and two 360s, Klassen’s run further cemented his status as a legend of the Verbier Xtreme. Victor De La Rue took third, and won the tour title in his rookie year. This accomplishment reflects full-throttle riding honed over 15 years of filming, and puts Victor in line to continue his brother Xavier’s legacy as a competitive freeride powerhouse. Sammy Luebke took second with signature style and a smooth backside 360 indy.
The 2019 Verbier Xtreme wrapped up a banner season for the Freeride World Tour, one that saw truly progressive riding from the likes of Travis Rice, Gigi Rüff, and Sammy Luebke. The tour has never been more exciting, or relevant to snowboarding more generally– we couldn’t be more stoked looking forward to 2020. Congratulations to all the Tour riders and organizers, and thanks for an amazing season.