By Maximilian Ritter
After an extremely late start to the European ski season due to lack of snow, the Freeride Junior Tour is finally up and running. Setting the bar high was the name of the game at the Freeride Junior World Championships held in Grandvalira-Andorra a few weeks ago.
The competition venue topped out at 2,660 meters (almost 9,000 feet) and featured 1,000 feet of vertical drop, littered with cliffs, rollers, and wind lips. Snow conditions were less than ideal at first, though by the afternoon the snow had softened into spring-like conditions.
The young female rippers put on quite a show at the first stop of the Junior Tour. Norway’s 16-year-old Synnøve Medhus took first with an impressive run linking a multitude of huge airs. Second went to USA’s Olivia Askew for a unique technical line down the far right side of the venue. France’s Illona Carlod stomped a very stylish line linking a cornice drop with huge GS turns down the main face, earning her third place.
The highlight of the boys’ competition was 17-year-old Canadian Jackson Bathgate’s winning run, featuring a massive 360 off a cliff followed by an unexpectedly large air off a roller near the bottom. See below.
Fellow Canadian Nigel Ziegler earned second place for linking together a series of huge drops, but could not beat Bathgate’s speed and fluidity score. Third place went to USA’s Xander Guldman for airing the biggest drop on the venue and a laid-out backflip at the bottom of the course.
The second stop of the Freeride Junior Tour is currently going off in Chamonix, France. After a brief break, the Tour will return to Fieberbrunn, Austria, March 5.