When I left NZ most of Europe was still looking pretty brown. I don’t usually check the forecast before I head over because I figure it makes no difference; I’d rather just turn up. Usually though, I find out from word of mouth or from a friends Facebook post about either Epic pow or epic grass skiing. This year it was grass skiing, by from Kiwi freerider Michael Norrie
With an image of earth tones in my mind I got to packing, thinking that I might have an advantage this year with my extensive “all terrain” training in NZ at the end of winter
However due to a storm that started about the day I left NZ, my advantage seems to be swiftly disappearing.
This week is Verbier Freeride week, and my plan was to arrive in town, ski for 3 days and go straight into the two 2 star events starting last Monday as a warm up for the season finishing with the 3* this weekend.
Both events were moved over to Bruson and pushed back to Wednesday and Friday to be run on the same venue the JR comp used the previous weekend. This was because of poor visibility caused by the storm that was just nuking its guts out as well as a dangerously unstable snow pack up on the venues at Verbier that resulted from the sudden mass of new snow.
The venue we skied was pretty bare of features and cliffs in the middle of the run with a small amount of more exposed terrain on either boundary. Most of the field went for the fall line option of hitting rollers, wind lips and small rocks at speed and sending tricks off everything.
In the first event the light was up and down and I skied a one hit line in the exposure on the edge of the venue, which was fun but not particularly gnarly and placed me in 11th.
In the second 2 star event the sun was out all day and people stepped up the level of tricks and boosted the speed. I was hungry for something a little more exciting that my first attempt so I switched to the other edge of the venue and took a similar approach choosing technical steep and exposed rather than nearly everyone else who chose to mainline high speed with tricks.
I skied fast and fluid with a gap at the top and nice double in the middle and was able to pick up 3rd place, right behind fellow Kiwi shredder Hank Bilous in second whose run included a box of frosted flakes strapped to his backpack, a 360 and a cork seven.
The winner was Max Vaquin whose run I didn’t see but I hear was really impressive with a high speed approach and back to back front flips followed by a humongous backflip off a wind lip to finish.
Although I would have loved to ski a bigger venue, this one forced a bit of creativity into the mix which made things quite interesting. I am happy with how things went and I am planning to step things up more in the weeks to come, starting with the Verbier 3* happening tomorrow.
3 comps and a bunch of insane powder in my first week is an awesome start to the season!