Big backcountry backflips, binocular-clad spectators and sushi for breakfast – that can only mean one thing: the Freeride World Tour has started. And despite the lack of Japow deepness, The North Face athletes put down impressive displays in Hakuba, stomping their runs and taking two firsts and one second place.
The ‘low-tide’ season in Japan meant riders faced challenging conditions on the 20th of January for the first leg of the Freeride World Tour.
“It definitely wasn’t the Japow we expected,” said Victor de le Rue. “But it was the sunniest we’ve ever had, so I thought I might as well enjoy it.”
Victor nailed his run putting down a backflip and a 360, combining both with fluid riding and a solid line choice.
“The snow was quite hard in some places, but I went out of my comfort zone and sent the second backflip of my season with a solid stomp. That woke up for sure.”
Victor’s run landed him first place, helping to build his confidence for the rest of the tour. “I wanted to step up my game this year and show some great snowboarding. I can’t wait for the next stop.”
Line selection is always key for a podium position at the FWT. And Marion Hearty is never one to shy away from the steep and gnarly. She even managed to find some pockets of pow on her first-place winning run. “I’m stoked to start the season with a first place,” said Marion. “It gives me confidence for the next one. I found some super good snow and I had so much fun. I love Japow.”
And not to let the ski-side of the team down, the newest member of The North Face athlete team, Arianna Tricomi, brought her signature freestyle playfulness with a stylish 360 and floaty run from top to bottom.
“I enjoyed myself a lot. It was a super playful, fun line and I’m stoked to get off to a good start. The conditions were pretty challenging; it went from good to super hard pack. And I was in pain cos I fell and hurt my foot trying a backflip the day before. But I just took some pain killers and went for it, so I’m super happy.”
The defending champion earned herself second place on the podium and stands in good stead for the next event in Kicking Horse Golden in February.
“I still have the potential to do better and I’m excited to ride in Canada. I’ve heard they have a lot of snow, which is great for me as I love to ride powder. I just hope it’s not too cold like last year, cos I really don’t function in the snow. But yeah, I’m stoked to get the tour started.”
The next event goes down in Canada sometime, weather dependent, from 6-12 February. Check out the Freeride World Tour website for more info.