When: Sat 15th of March 2008
Where: Verbier, Switzerland
The 13th edition of the Xtreme in Verbier was held today at the west face of Mont Gelé, in the heart of Verbier ski resort. The planet’s 37 best freeride skiers and snowboarders were showing the ultimate performance of the sport with powerful, fast, fluid and spectacular lines down the challenging mountain. As the Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Verbier is the fifth and final contest of the Freeride World Tour, the four World Champions were crowned this afternoon after the contest.
Tension was high for this last and final contest of the Freeride World Tour, also considered the most prestigious contest of them all. A 100 000 US $ prize pot was at stake as well. To accomplish the difficult lines, these top athletes have to have mental focus, physical ability, stay smart and have the very highest level skiing or snowboarding.
Today, the snowboarders started after the skiers, which made their riding more difficult with the skied out snow. The Swiss snowboarder Cyril Neri chose a different line where there were less tracks and it paid off. All smiles for Cyril, who took his first victory of the Freeride World Tour today. “I won the Xtreme ten years ago [and 2006], and now I am back! I opted for good snow, clean jumps and fast riding. It was a good exercise to change face today. As for the other contests of the World Tour this year we had to change the originally planned contest face due to difficult conditions. It demands a lot of us riders, we progress when we have to be flexible and adapt. It pushes the level even higher.”
French snowboarder Xavier de le Rue has impressed all season with his extremely fast and powerful riding. With one win and two second places he is the Freeride World Champion 2008 in the snowboard category, tightly followed by Swiss rider Alex Coudray and Austrian Flo Orley. Xavier de le Rue has an impressive background as a four times boarder cross World Champion, winner of the Xtreme and the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro 2007, and is already looking forward to next season. “During the whole tour we were quite unlucky with the conditions, it has been difficult for the organisers but it was still a success. It can just get better for next year and I am really motivated to push my abilities even further.”
The female riders were first on the mountain today and impressed the spectator crowd with fast, solid riding. Swiss local rider Ruth Leisibach is one of the most aggressive female riders on the planet which she proved today by winning the Xtreme for the fifth time and the World Champion title. After a back injury at the beginning of the season she has had an amazing recovery. “I am really stoked for the World Champion title but the most important for me is to enjoy. We have ridden beautiful mountains during the tour. The competitions are interesting and a real kick of adrenaline. It is where you give it all and push the limits for the female freeriding.”
The very first edition of the Freeride World Tour has consisted of five contests around the world; in Mammoth USA, Sochi, Russia, mobile in the Alps, in Tignes, France and finally today in Verbier, Switzerland. During the events the riders have been judged based on three criteria: choice of line, control and fluidity, which can be summed up to one criteria: General Impression.
Head organiser of the Freeride World Tour and the 13 editions of the Xtreme in Verbier, Nicolas Hale-Woods, is thrilled to have successfully completed the first edition of the Tour: “It has been a great challenge to organize the first ever Freeride World Tour with the best skiers and snowboarders in the world, in some of the most well known resorts. The feedback from the riders is great. They are happy to see the progression of their sport both from a sportive point of view and with the growing public interest internationally as well as media wise. Some of the biggest challenges have certainly been to organize events at numerous locations around the planet, and the difficult snow and weather conditions this winter. The winter is very short, we organised seven events from mid January to mid March and travelled from one venue to the other. But meeting other cultures is also very motivating. We really look forward to organizing next year’s tour and go to new exciting destinations around the world.”
Nissan Riders Award
Tonight, all the competing riders of the Freeride World Tour are voting for two riders, one male and one female, who have made the most impressive run over the five FWT contests. Through video footage, two snowboarders were voted for the riders’ choice. Freeride World Champion Xavier de le Rue won the male category for his exceptional run at Le Buet during the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro and can drive off proudly with a Nissan Navara. Freeride World Champion Ruth Leisibach won the female award for her run today in Verbier and is now the lucky owner of a Nissan Xtrail.