Meet the 9 Region 1 Freeriders Qualified for the FWT23 | Freeride World Tour

Meet the 9 Region 1 Freeriders Qualified for the FWT23

It all went down for the Region 1 riders at the big final of Open Faces FWQ 4* at Gurgl - meet the 9 riders who qualified for the FWT23 season.  

The stars of the European Oceania tour gathered for an absolute showdown on the Hangererer face in Gurgl, Austria. After an intensive season of competition, the snow gods brought 40cm’s of powder, and the riders brought the fireworks – leaving it all on the line in their efforts to qualify for FWT23. 

This year, the top-ranked FWQ riders were joined by FWT riders who didn’t make the elimination round in Kicking Horse, Golden BC. The conditions, the riders and the new event format delivered the highest level of freeride. Read on for details of the successful riders, now qualified for FWT23.



The snowboard men category scored first tracks on Gurgl’s Hangerer face, as they vied for the last of two qualifying spots for FWT23. Liam Rivera (MEX) of Mexico held a commanding lead this season and secured the top FWT qualifying spot after his podiums in the Nendaz and Jasna 4* events. Rivera is just 22 years young, but boasts a wealth of experience on the Freeride Junior and Qualifier Tours. After watching Rivera put down a spectacular forerun at the Xtreme Verbier FWT final, the freeride family are excited to welcome Rivera in their midst next season.

Gabriel Bletton (FRA) was second out of the gate in Gurgl and set the standard of flow riding with big airs. The French snowboarder clinched the win today, narrowly overtaking Christoph Charlet to take the 2ndsnowboard men qualifying spot for FWT23. Bletton’s top results for FWQ22 include today’s win, and 1stplace in the Nendaz event. 

I’m so happy to have qualified for the tour, it will allow me to travel and visit so many exciting new places next year.

 - Gabriel Bletton. 



Anna Orlova has dominated the FWQ22 snowboard women category with powerful, fast riding. After falling off the FWT in season 21, Orlova has scored top results with 1st & 3rd places in Nendaz & Jasna. Today’s 2nd place result in the Gurgl FWQ final completes her podium hat trick, and secures her position back on the freeride world tour for winter 23. 

When considering the prospect of the Russian rider rejoining the tour, FWT CEO, Nicolas Hale-Woods commented, "It is essential to us that sport remains a neutral environment in which athletes of all nationalities can play their sport regardless of the politics of their country. We believe in the values of sport to bring people together, not divide them."



Manon Loschi (FRA) is one of the youngest, but most formidable competitors on the FWQ. With 360’s on lock, and technically excellent skiing, the 19 year-old has proven her mettle in the FWQ finals. Today’s 2ndplace result and a 1st place in Nendaz qualified Loschi in 1st position for FWT23. Loschi’s qualification is all the more impressive with FWQ22 being her second year competing in the qualifiers. She has built her freeride craft through the La Clusaz freeride club, coached by FWT veteran Seb Michaud, a wealth of FJT competitions and a passion to progress women’s freeride skiing. “It will take a while to realise this accomplishment. A big thanks to my friends and coach who supported me along the way.” - Manon Loschi.

Megane Betend (FRA) is a veteran competitor with 7 years competing on the FWQ and over 120 competitions under her belt. This season, Betend demonstrated her experience with multiple podiums including two 2nd place results in the FWQ finals in Nendaz & Jasna. The 27-year-old is elated to qualify in second position after narrowly missing the cut in FWQ20 and FWQ21: 

There’s been a lot of pressure and uncertainty right until the end. I’m so excited, but also a little apprehensive about what’s to come.

- Megane Betend




The standout story of this FWQ season is that of Silvretta Montafon skier Max Hitzig (AUT), who rose from zero to hero in just 3 weeks. Hitzig received a local wildcard to compete in the Montafon FWQ 4* but unluckily lost a ski right below the start gate. After an anxious wait on the seeding list, he was then able to compete in the Nendaz 3* event. He amazed the judges but had to be disqualified because he crossed a zone that was closed right as he dropped in. Due to this, Hitzig was awarded another wild card to the Nendaz 4* FWQ Final where he put down a crazy run, and clinched the win. Max backed this up with another podium in Jasna, and secured his place on the FWT23. Hitzig was then wildcarded into the FWT Final event in Fieberbrunn where astoundingly, he won again, in a stacked field of FWT skiers. The future is bright for this young, Austrian freerider! 

Proving the new format, FWT22 skier Valentin Rainer (AUT) missed qualification for the FWT finals, but rose again, victorious from the FWQ finals.  Rainer’s combination of silky smooth riding through serious terrain and a deep bag of tricks ensured consistent results in all three FWQ Finals. The Peak Performance rider qualified in 2nd position due to the following results: 2nd in Nendaz, 5th in Jasna, and 1st in Gurgl. 

Winning Gurgl means even more to me than being requalified. I’m super happy and grateful for all the support that I have received.

- Valentin Rainer. 

Valentin Rainer

Simon Perraudin (SUI) is a young skier from the home of freeride - Verbier, Switzerland. In his premiere season on the FWQ, the 19-year-old was stoked to make it through to the finals. His win in Jasna featured two big 360s in technical terrain, bringing him a step closer to FWT qualification. Today, Perraudin landed in 6th place in Gurgl, making that dream a reality.

Manu Barnard (NZL) came storming from the back of the pack of riders able to qualify for FWT23. Ranked in 12th position, Barnard not only had to secure a strong result, but higher-ranked skiers had to fall. Today, the cards fell in his favor, with Barnard’s smooth and fast run securing 2nd place, qualifying him in 4th position of the ski men's field. 



It’s been a strong start for the updated FWQ & FWT Finals format, exemplified by the incredible level seen on both tours this season. The FWQ Finals showcase the hard work of the qualifier riders on live broadcast, and gives them a chance to measure their skill against the FWT riders. 

Congratulations to all the riders who put on an amazing show today and a HUGE thanks goes out to our marvelous hosts – Open Faces and Gurgl ; and to their partners -  Scott Sports, Raiffeisen Club Tirol, and Mons Royale.. The Hangerer face is an awe-inspiring venue to host the ultimate FWQ Final, and the support of the Gurgl organisation team is invaluable. 

Stay tuned to to see our freshly qualified riders sending it into FWT23, and catch all the action in the 2023 FWQ series.