The final event of the FWT season, the YETI Xtreme Verbier, has been canceled amid ongoing snow and wind.
Heavy snowfalls over the last 48 hours – including wind gusts of 135 km/h – have generated extremely hazardous conditions on the Bec des Rosses, making the venue unsafe for riding and leaving organizers with no option other than to cancel the iconic event.
- Widespread avalanches have left the Bec des Rosses unsafe for freeriding
- The second time in history that the YETI Xtreme Verbier has been canceled
- Four new FWT World Champions are crowned
Multiple avalanches triggered during safety works
All lifts to the venue have been closed since Saturday, owing to the unremitting wind and avalanche danger, which is currently four out of five. Mountain guides, together with the Freeride World Tour founder and commissioner, assessed the situation from a helicopter yesterday, but safety teams were only able to access the venue this morning. Unfortunately, during the safety works this morning multiple layers of snow released to form large, widespread avalanches, leaving terrain that is unrideable to even the most seasoned big mountain specialist. Today was the only viable option for competition and, with more clouds and snow forecast for the afternoon and the rest of the week, the Bec will continue to be too dangerous for FWT athletes, preventing the event from running.
Following this morning’s bombing on the Bec des Rosses, several large avalanches came down. The venue is therefore unusable for safety reasons, meaning the YETI Xtreme Verbier 2023 is canceled, and the world champion titles will be awarded according to the rankings after four events. We did everything possible with the challenging conditions, but Mother Nature has the final say, which we must respect.
Xtreme Verbier canceled for the second time in FWT history
This marks only the second time in FWT history that the Xtreme Verbier has been canceled, the other being in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The FWT rules in this scenario state that whoever is the rankings leader going into the event prevails, meaning the FWT world champions for 2023 are:
- Valentin Rainer (AUT) in ski men
“Unbelievable to win the title. I was prepared for a competition today, but Mother Nature was kind of on my side, I would say. I would have still wished to do a run here at Verbier, but we will next year! It was a really good season; everything from the first stop onwards was awesome – a dream season for sure."
- Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) in ski women
“I am speechless. Honestly, I did not realize this would happen today, but now I am world champion. I have been working so hard the last few months, but now I am feeling so proud of all the hard work and self-belief. To finish the season with this title means the world to me. This was my dream coming into freeride, but I never thought it would be possible this fast. I am so happy I made the switch to freeriding and the wonderful world of the FWT, and I am excited to what’s next – this is just the beginning.”
- Ludovic Guillot-Diat (FRA) in snowboard men
“It’s a strange day and sad for all the riders, but we are in the mountains so it’s like this sometimes. I am very happy to have the title and, with four podiums this season, I was looking forward to adding a fifth today!”
- Katie Anderson (CAN) in snowboard women
“A little bit bittersweet today, I wish we could’ve gone ahead but the mountain had other plans. I am really proud of everyone who rode this year, and I am super happy and excited to win the title – last year I never thought I would be standing here.”
A reminder that Mother Nature calls the shots
This is another reminder that the all-powerful Mother Nature always holds the trump cards, and competition must yield in order to keep the athletes safe. This season, however, will be celebrated and long remembered for many reasons, including breakthrough performances from the next generation of FWT athletes.
Congratulations to the FWT23 world champions – the first time each has claimed this prestigious title – and a special shout out to all the riders who have entertained onlookers all season with their progressive freeriding.
As FWT23 draws to a close, the focus shifts to FWT24, the roster of which will soon take shape when the final events of the FWT Challenger series conclude. Find out the full roster for FWT24 soon at www.freerideworldtour.com, and follow the FWT social channels for all the latest news as it drops.