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2015 Freeride Junior World Champions Crowned Today
Mora Banc Freeride Junior World Championships 2015
It was the first time the Freeride Junior World Championships has been held on European territory. The debut of these championships took place in Snowbird, Utah (USA) in 2013 and was thus the first time the best juniors in the world met in a title competition. Last year, the success was repeated in Big Sky, Montana (USA). Traditionally the French and US riders have been dominating the podiums as can be seen in the historical overview below. While these nations are still strong, some new ones made it to the podium this year, reflecting very well the growth of freeride worldwide. This year 16 nations were represented by a total of 60 riders in the four categories.
The competition day started with the women snowboarders showing some very creative podium lines with good use of the face. Jazmine Erta (ITA) delivered a very solid run going into a good cliff on the riders left with a very technical entry. Stomping it, she moved on to some fast big turns in the middle and ended her run with 3 more features on the bottom. An action-packed line choice, earning her the win of the day and thus the 2015 World Champion title in the women's snowboarding category. "To be Freeride Junior World Champion is amazing. I absolutly didn't expect it. I think this got me into freeriding because this is my first race. I want to do all the freeride I can. I don't if I'll be able to compete more this season but in 2016 I will definitely be competing in freeride. Grandvalira is amazing and I hope I can come back here again next year."
Gabrielle Beche (FRA) chose a solid line that made her take the silver: A Good cliff up top, smoothe riding down the middle and another cliff at the bottom, managing the flat landing well "I felt more pressure than usual - it's the World Championships after all! But I managed to focus and bring it together and I'm realy happy with my second place," she said revealing that her goal is to keep improving and make it into the FWQ series when she's done as a junior.
Fiona Torello (ESP) did a well controlled run getting in five smaller features before going big on the bottom and crashing. This gutsy run got her a third place. "I had a good run. Too bad I didn't land the bottom air well - if I had stomped it I think I would have had a good chance of making first place. But that's the name of the game. It has been a great experience and the way the Freeride World Tour has organized this for us has been great," Fiona said with a slight hint of disapointment.
The women's skiing category started with four Americans setting the standards with high pace and aggressive riding. Jacqueline Pollard (USA) was the one to lay out everything according to plan receiving a sky high score of 82.25. She showed good control shifting from high speed big turns in to controlling short turns before her two very technical features with good air, showing mastery of the face while keeping a beautiful flow all the way. "It was fun! I was so excited to ski the venue. I didn't expect to win - I was more just proud of making it here to these World Championships," she said.
Synnøve Medhus (NOR) took the silver with a sweet run with good action from top to bottom. She finished off with a size L cliff, making the crowds cheer as she demonstrated good quad strength, pulling herself up from a landing in a powder pocket. "It has been a fantastic experience coming here! The competition really, is almost just a bonus!" says the Norwegian who confesses watching the Røldal Freeride Challenge every year.
The third place went 2014 champion, Illona Carlod (FRA) who showed nice use of terrain and good control as she hit a good mix features in different sizes. "I felt a little under pressure at the top," said the defending champion "but finally it turned out not to bad for me. I'm happy with my third place - there was a really high level skiing here today!"
Dylan Zellers (USA) opened the men's snowboarding category hitting it down the "debris canal" in the center of the men's face, spraying playful airs of features throughout the whole middle and bottom section. A fun line with no mistakes, showing good control and earning him the title with a score of 80.00. "I really didn't think I was going to do that well, I was just really happy with my run," the happy US riders said. "I have met some super nice riders here in Europe - and I'm really surprised - their English is really good!"
The second place went to Liam Rivera (MEX) who rode a solid line, going for the untouched powder on the riders right, before turning into a double crossing over to the riders left side of the face. Here he hit two more features in style and finally shot it down to the bottom giving him a score of 73.75. "I'm stoked, I did - almost - everything as planned," said the Mexican rider who has lived in Switzerland since he was one year old. "I came into freeride because I love the atmosphere," he continues and says that since he is only 15 years old he doesn't yet know whether the goal is to turn pro. "But as long as I have the opportunity to be part of this, I will," he says maturely. The third place went to Julien Pichet (SUI) who finished a solid run in style with the smoothest entry into a 360.
In the men's skiing category it was also the first rider who ended up in first place. Arthur Raskin (FRA) shot out of the gate like Ferdinando the Bull and kept that pace all along as he went rider's far left over to the big bottom cliff bands which he hit solidly one after the other with absolutely no hesitation. He finished his run arms in the air celebrating a perfect high-adrenaline run, leaving the other riders at the start under pressure with a spectacular score of 87.00. "I was really stressed up top, but my coaches helped me a lot. They have a part of this victory!" says the new World Champion generously.
Luke Smith (SUI) spited not feeling well in the morning and hit it off with two airs up top taking him across riders left into the rocky, steep section which he straight-lined down onto the roll-over and into a crowd pleasing triple cliff finish putting him in second place. "I woke up feeling really sick and I already felt tired after my second turn, but I managed to pull a creative and fluid run and it paid off" he says relieved.
The last rider of the day, Victor Pouvel (FRA), rode another high pace line, ending it with skiing out of the huge bottom drop where the only two other riders going for this cliff had crashed. A spectacular performance earning him the third place on the podium. "I couldn't have dreamt of a better scenario. We are both on the podium -my best friend and me!" says a thrilled and surprised Victor with reference to Arthur Raskin. "I never thought I was going to make the podium!"
With the Freeride Junior Tour in full swing, today's FJWC proved that young riders clearly have the legs and the mind to compete at a high level. It will be very interesting to see a few years down the road how they progress. The top FWT riders of today did not have the opportunity to compete on freeride events from a young age, but these guys who rode the face in Grandvalira are already building a solid foundation today, that will for sure allow them to excel tomorrow. This will push the sport in a big fashion in the coming years.
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