Verbier Freeride Week- FWQ 2* with Angelica Sykes
Words by Angelica Sykes – Competitive Freeride Athlete.
So the ‘Verbier Freeride Week’ has come to an end and it’s been a mixed bag of freeride emotions. If you’re a snowsports enthusiast, you’ve no doubt heard about the very strange conditions we have been experiencing here in the Alps. Due to this, competitions are being proposed then rescheduled left, right and centre.
Eventually, however, the snow arrived! Everyone was stoked that the white stuff covered literally all resorts around the South, West and North West of the Alps. This meant that come Wednesday we were ready and raring to go for the first round of Verbier Freeride Week. Although it’s important to mention that the snow falling in abundance has created other issues – notably regarding avalanche risks.
For those looking to get into the competition circuit, Verbier Freeride Week is definitely the best place to start – first off, for one sign up fee you get two competitions! What’s more, there’s always a big hype surrounding this competition; the whole Freeride World Tour began here in Verbier and although it’s only a 2* which, in the grand scheme of things, is nowhere near as hard as the actual World Tour faces, they certainly push you to the limit. The points and the reputable “shred cred” gained from this particular competition are worth every penny.
So coming back to those issues I mentioned previously – Verbier, like Chamonix and Gressoney, is a Freeride paradise. This means that the piste controllers are very switched on to the potential risks when opening the mountain after a monumental snowfall. Due to this, the lift pass office has became very protective over all the best faces in the main Verbier mountain side and their controlled bombings as well their tight safety control meant the Qualifier Tour was driven to the Bruson side of the mountain for the Freeride week.
We were presented with a face that to the naked eye was looking rather flat and, dare I say, dull? On day one the snow was good but the visiblity was rather poor which presented a challenge in itself. However, on picking a line I knew that it was the time to just smash it. I had a good jump at the start into the face, some good powder turns which were brilliant as I was the second to drop in so had the pick of the tracks. I ended up being placed 7th which wasn’t too bad considering the numbers. I was happy as it had been a fun run despite the visibility but unfortunately, I was rather slow.
From this experience, I can safely say that I’ve now learnt what the judges were looking for. This became especially clear on day 2 where I was all for putting into practice advice that I’d received in regards to doing big wide turns with super controlled skill. As it turned out, the competition would be on the same face as the Wednesday round. I re-assessed my line, thinking that, this time, I had it in the bag.
On our day off between the competitions I had an incredible day – 7 solid hours of smashing every line with my bros from Cervinia (including the competition face), and I was quietly confident that I had my line. Come the morning of the competition I was stoked to be riding again with such an amazing group of athletes.
However, I was the 76th to drop in, so after some time-killing shredding, I found myself at the top and ready to rumble. I started strong, with a good drop off a wind lip, some nice turns and some pops here and there. But upon landing at the bottom it was clear that due to some confusion, a ski dude dropped in at the same time as me! I therefore had to head up and drop in again but I wasn’t bothered – the run was fun and I had been really chuffed with my chosen line!
The second time around everything began smoothly until I embarked on a double front flip- not on purpose. You can see where I’m going with this… it was a sizeable crash. However, despite not receiving a great final result, I’m totally fine with it. The head honcho judge gave me the best advice in the world after the results were released, giving me a new, more relaxed outlook which I believe could prove far more advantageous when I head to the next competition.
On a final note – life is good, the Alps are awesome, my friends rock and my sponsors are the most amazing companies to work for! For my next competition I am going to put 100% on the thrill of the ride but most importantly. . . . GO BIG OR GO HOME. That’s it. Nothing to lose but everything to gain.