Ralph Backstrom and Shannan Yates win stop one of the Freeride World Tour in Revelstoke
Words by Ralph Backstrom
Revelstoke Mountain Resort hosted the first stop of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face. This year, the FWT saw more North Americans, courtesy of the TNF Masters/FWT merger, including 2012 Masters champion Sammy Luebke, Jamie Rizzuto, Tim Carlson and Jon Rodosky, as well as FWT 2012 competitors Matt Annetts and myself, Ralph Backstrom.
The weather forecast indicated that pulling off a freeride competition would be a tricky task. Most competitors were happy to ride fresh, knee-deep pow day after day, but they did spend a lot of money getting to Revelstoke to compete and were anxious for the clouds to break. The inspection day didn’t have the clear skies that we had all anticipated, so riders had to pour over photos and watch videos of skiers from last year’s event hopeing that the skies would part with two weather days left.
With a few clouds in the sky at 6:30am, competitors made their way up to Mack Daddy, witnessing a beautiful sunrise in the process. Riders got the last details of their lines with binoculars and snapped fresh pics before hiking up the ridge to the top of the venue.
The top middle part of the face had variable conditions, but the rest of the venue was full of deep pow and ready to rip. Both Sammy Luebke and Jonathan Charlet threw down some potentially winning runs, however, both had some wicked tomahawks that would take them out of the game.
In the end, it was Ralph Backstrom that stood atop the podium (yeah, I just referred to myself in 3rd person). I picked a line that looked extremely fun, with spread out features, the best snow on the face, and less exposure. The snow was so deep that not sinking the nose on my landings was a tough task. I had snow and a big smile caked on my face from the deep turns in the trees when I got to the bottom making for one hell of a stop on the Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face. Beside myself. France’s Ludovic Guillot-Diat and Aurelien Routens rounded out the podium.
Later that day the ladies would take to famed Mack Daddy face to show the world the men aren’t the only ones who can kill it in the big mountain scene. Following her success from the 2012 FWT, Shannon Yates would link together the perfect run to impress the judges and take first place. “This is the steepest venue the female snowboarders have yet to face,” said Yates. “The top of the run was variable and icy making it hard to go fast, but I managed to ride my line and land both airs.” Rounding out the ladies podium would Frances Margot Rozies in second and Elode Mouthon in third.
Stay tuned as the FWT is headed across the pond for the next two stops on the tour to beautiful Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc, Italy then Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France.