People And Places To Watch in Region 2
As the FWQ season in Region 2 gets up to speed here’s what you need to know.
With one 4* (Revelstoke, BC) done and some results in the book the official chase for FWT spots in Region 2 has started in earnest. Here’s who we’re keeping an eye on as we move into the meat of the competition season:
Ben Smith and Nicole Kelly (Men and Women snowboard) aced their exams in Revelstoke along with Elsa Smith and Tom Peiffer (wmns + mns ski), but while podiums are always nice, it would be a mistake to count out Montana skier Sidney Simard from the final reckoning when things wrap up in the spring. Simard had an impressive summer, taking the win at the Freeride Sudamerica’s Chapelco 2* event (a venue which, in all honesty should be 3* or higher) and he’s a mere 150 points behind Revy winner Peiffer in the overall standings. He, along with former FWT snowboarder Christopher Galvin (770 points ahead of his nearest challenger) could be locks for the FWT provided they continue to uncork the consistent performances that have marked their results so far.
Photo (c) Sidney Simard
Montana athlete Sidney Simard on top of the podium at Corralco, Argentina. With a humble demeanor and top-shelf ability, Simard is quickly becoming a fan favorite on the FWQ circuit, where he a good chance to end up in one of the automatic FWT qualifying spots at the end of the season.
On the women’s side Smith’s 4* win in Canada has put her in the driver’s seat when it comes to the overall standings for the lady skiers, but chasing her is Claudia Aliaga who just won the Les Arc 4* event and dark horse Sofia Clement. Clement, a Chilean rider who hangs with the Freeride Chile crew out of the funky Base Camp Farellones above Santiago, currently sits in 4th overall. Yes, she has a 1070 point gap to make up on Smith, but she’s a proven performer who knows how to win, with a resume that includes topping the podium in the Andes last summer at both Antillanca and Corralco. Will she be able to bridge the gap and make it to the FWT in 2019? It would be crazy to count out this talented and humble athlete, who has all of Chile rooting for her. Another Chilean to watch is snowboarder Isidora Assler Escala, who currently sits in 6th overall for the single-plank ladies in Region 2.
Photo (c) Sofia Clement
With a smile like that, no wonder everyone loves her! Chilean athlete Sophia Clement brings a positive attitude and a carefree spirit to this year’s FWQ North American events.
Snow? Yes and no.
The storm track in 2018 for North America has been distinct and both generous and miserly for event hosts. The cut-off point seems to be the Central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where things North of Vail have seen snow and everything south is getting skunked. The big concern? Crested Butte. The ‘Butte is one of the spiritual homes of freeriding, having hosted events for decades. The list of athletes who have stood on the podium in this southern Colorado town is a venerable one: Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Wendy Fisher have all competed here (you can watch the very first U.S. Extreme skiing championships here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q37R4TUv98U) and done very well.
Photo (c) Cresed Butte Mountain Resort
Snowbanks? We need some stinkin’ snowbanks! It’s normally a lot tougher to jaywalk in the town of Crested Butte because of the massive snowbanks that line the streets.
But this year the resort – along with southern Rockies FWQ host Taos, NM – is in danger of having to cancel their FWQ 2 and 4* events. The ‘Butte has already pushed back the event date to March 15 from February 11th, but with the storm track hanging stubbornly to the north, plenty of snow dances over the next weeks will have to be done if conditions are to round into form. You’re dancing already, right?
But that’s not the case farther north, where plenty of mountain ranges are seeing all-time conditions. Crystal Mountain, WA, which hosts a 4* event is currently reporting 726 centimeters of snowfall on the year, and currently has a 251cm base at mid-mountain. And with the northern flow looking to continue over the coming weeks, their March 22nd 4* event has the potential to be one of the best FWQ stops we’ve seen in years.
Photo (c) Matt Mosteller
More snow, less tracks. This year’s northern flow has been good to Kicking Horse, which has an awesome base ready to welcome FWQ competitors to the ski area’s legendary Wrangle the Chute events this March.
The situation is much the same up in Canada, where FWT event host Kicking Horse, BC will host the venerable Wrangle the Chute 2 and 4* events from March 7 – 11. According to Kicking Horse’s Power Matt Mosteller, “it’s snowing hard and there’s more on the way.” But don’t take his word for it, the official snow report for the ski area says that the mountain has seen 64cm over the past 7 days and a whopping 711 cm for the season.