Big mountain riding in full glory

 

Xavier de la Rue, freeride snowboarder

Le Châble local, Xavier de le Rue, leaving the shadows of The Bec behind him.

This weekend the world’s best freeride skiers and snowboarders hiked up, and then descended, the jaw-dropping 3223m Bec de Rosses in Verbier to decide who would be crowned champion of the Freeride World Tour.

The event drew about 8000 people to the slopes around Col de Gentianes to witness the best in the game throw down big, bold lines. In conditions that provided variable snow conditions, the commitment to some serious exposure was astounding. Although the World Tour title was open for grabs in each of the events (men’s skiing, men’s snowboarding, women’s skiing and women’s snowboarding), in every instance the person who won the Verbier Xtreme also walked away with the Tour title.

The women’s start zone was on the lookers right of the Bec de Rosses shoulder, with the athletes charging some beautifuly aesthetic lines on an aspect that showed a good balance of sun and shade. The women’s skiing was won by Swede Christine Hargin while the snowboarding title was taken by American Maria DeBari.

The men had a selection of start zones, but the bulk of their descent ultimately took place in the terribly rock-scarred, shadowed north face. It is hard enough to identify a route down the face, so watching riders tackle it at mach-1 was hugely entertaining, and, at moments, a little terrifying! The men’s skiing was won by another Swede, Reine Barkered, who executed a smooth and fast descent that took in multiple big cliff drops.  The men’s boarding title was claimed by Frenchman Jonathan Charlet.

The Verbier Xtreme is a fantastic spectator event and a highlight on Verbier’s annual calendar. Few other places can allow you a front-row seat to what big-mountain freeriding is all about.

Here are a selection of images from the day.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

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