The first stop of the Freeride World Tour, the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont-Blanc 2011 by Swatch, moved from Chamonix, France, to Courmayeur, Italy, on the other side of Mont Blanc, in order to find better snow conditions.
The finals, which took place Sunday, were dominated by the French who brought home the first three places in men's snowboarding and the top two spots in men's skiing. In addition, Anne-Flore Marxer put her wild card to good use with a strong win in the women's snowboard division.
Chamonix local and 2009 Freeride World Champion Aurélien Ducroz from France won the men's ski division. Although the Frenchmen was one of the last men to start that didn't hold him back from charging the course with big, clean drops and smooth, aggressive riding.
"I was one of the last riders on the start list so I chose to ski a different line that had not yet been ridden to get good snow," Ducroz said. "It all turned out perfectly. It was pretty tricky in some places where I could not see much of the line because it was so steep, but I was confident after my thorough inspection yesterday."
Adrien Coirier from France, who has been suffering from a back injury for the past two years, showed that he's back in full form with a strong run which put him in the lead early and held off several strong challenges until Ducroz finally one-upped him.
Although Freeride World Champion Candide Thovex dropped out at the last minute when Quiksilver threw a two-year film project his way, the field was peppered with young park rippers who were eager to show their skills on a big mountain course. The only spin of the day was a 360 at the top of Canadian Kye Peterson's run, which certainly gave him points even though his rough landing might have been what kept him from doing better than sixth.
At this point in time, there are very few questions about the dominance of Xavier de Le Rue's big mountain skills. His winning run was classic de Le Rue -- fast and powerful with big drops to fast landings from start to finish and a Mach 10 straight line over a big double. Douds Charlet and Aurélien Routens, both from France, came in second and third, respectively.
All the women decided to start from the same starting gate, whereas the men were spread out over the three choices. Many of the women chose to focus on fluidity but it was the combination of fast lines and clean airs that brought home the win for American Angel Collinson. Sweden's Marja Persson came in a close second, with Sweden's Janette Hargi in third.
Wild card Anne-Flore Marxer came into this competition as a question mark. Although she's earned her reputation as a strong freestyler, many people wondered if she had the skills to make it on steep faces. Well, wonder no more. While her run didn't include any sizeable drops, Marxer charged an aggressive line that made her the clear winner of the day. Hot on her heels was another wildcard Ursula Wohlschlager from Austria. Nathalie Zenklussen from Switzerland placed third.
The next stop on the six-event FWT11, the Nissan Freeride de Engadin St Moritz 2011 by Swatch is January 30.