Above: Sammy Luebke going huge in Verbier FTW on the FWT - photo: Freeride World Tour/J. Bernard
As the sun rose over Switzerland for the 22nd edition of the Verbier Xtreme, Sammy Luebke had already claimed the 2017 tour title for himself on home sluff in Alaska. With the scariest face of them all, the Bec des Rosses, still to come, even veteran rider-turned-pundit Xavier de le Rue speculated the champ would take things easy given the gnarl-factor on the 45° slope.
Not so. With one of the biggest single hits of the whole tour Luebke took the win yesterday, giving him four wins out of five and a 100% strike rate on the podium for one of the most dominant seasons in the tour's ten year history.
Ralph Backstrom and Christoffer Granbom both crashed out on their runs, leaving the podium door open for an American sweep with tour rookie Davey Baird taking second in a previously untouched zone of the face and Jonathon Penfield going for a route with plenty of smaller features for third.
Verbier Xtreme 2017 - Men's Snowboarding
1st - Sammy Luebke
2nd - Davey Baird
3rd - Jonathon Penfield
The last minute points also gave Baird and Penfield enough to secure spots on the final tour podium, rounding off another exciting few months on the Freeride World Tour.
Freeride World Tour 2017 Final Rankings - Men's Snowboarding
1ST - SAMMY LUEBKE
2ND - JONATHON PENFIELD
3RD - DAVEY BAIRD
However, on the women's tour it was still all to play for, with Marion Haerty, Anne-Flore Marxer and Shannan Yates all in contention for the overall title before dropping in. Reverting to her Swiss nationality status once again (she competes as French when in France) it was AFM that took the win on the day, smashing out by far the largest features in the women's field and flying down the bottom half of the face, wings spread.
VERBIER XTREME 2017 - WOMEN'S SNOWBOARDING
1ST - Anne-Flore Marxer
2ND - Marion Haerty
3RD - Audrey Hebert
But consistency on the tour is key, so collecting second place yesterday bought Marion Haerty enough points to snatch the overall title on her second ever tour, stunning stuff.
FREERIDE WORLD TOUR 2017 FINAL RANKINGS - WoMEN'S SNOWBOARDING
1ST - Marion Haerty
2ND - Anne-Flore Marxer
3RD - Shannan Yates
And with that, the Freeride World Tour is done for another year. We're as excited for next year's as ever, and with rumours of a Chinese backcountry stop surfacing amongst footage of Travis Rice competing on the Freeride World Qualifier tour, who knows what in store for 2018?