Jonathan Charlet and Laura Dewey win stop three of the The Freeride World Tour in Chamonix

Comments by Ralph Backstrom/

The third stop of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face went down in Chamonix, Mont Blanc Saturday under perfect blue skies. The chosen venue, the Aiguille Pourrie at La Flegere, was used since the original face, the Pentes de l’hotel in Brevent, was a west-facing aspect and was sun affected. The Aiguille Pourrie is a much smaller venue than the Pentes de l’hotel, but with an east-northeast aspect the snow covering the steep features was deep with a great base.

There were 66 competitors including male and female riders, making it the largest Freeride World Tour competition yet. The run order went as follows: male snowboarders, male skiers, female skiers and lastly female boarders.

With the potential for afternoon clouds the FWT organizers pushed for a 9am start, meaning that the male snowboarders awoke at 5:30 am to have breakfast before the 75-minute hike up to the venue.

The first shredder to drop was 3-time world champion, Xavier De Le Rue. After landing 2 solid airs, Xavier had an unfortunate and frustrating fall on the smallest air of his line, putting him out of reach of the podium. The man wearing the golden bib in Chamonix, tour points leader Aurelien Routens, dropped next and hit a rock on the second take-off of a double and fell, ending up in 14th place and losing the gold bib.

Chamonix local, Jonathan Charlet, dropped third starting his line with a stylish frontside air on the ridgeline but had a serious butt-check off his second air. He nailed his next two features, the second of which was a good-sized double that he greased. Bertrand Denervaud, the head judge, said that the bottom portion of his run more than made up for his fall and Charlet took first place.

Ralph Backstrom, that’s me, ended up in 2nd place. It was hard to judge the scale on the features and the amount of space between them was tighter than I thought. My last air ended up being much bigger than I was expecting.

Rounding out the podium was ripper Sammy Luebke with a fast flawless run and a huge air.

For the women, Laura Dewey took the win with a fluid line down the looker’s left side of the venue stomping all her airs. It was her second run ever in Chamonix and it happened to be on Tim Carlson’s extra board in rented boots and bindings since her luggage didn’t make the trip to Chamonix.

Stay tuned as the next event of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face goes down at the end of February in Kirkwood, CA.