post by Hadley Hammer
The Freeride World Tour has been plagued yet again with poor snow conditions this year. And while it’s been difficult finding stable venues that are not littered with rocks, we have lucked out with amazing freeskiing.
Photo: Garret Altmann enjoying Austria
I arrived to Austria after Chamonix with a group of American riders four days before the competition. We were met with a few new meters of snow upon our arrival. The first day skiing was one of the more special days on the slopes I’ve ever had. Due to the storm, we were relegated to skiing the tree-ed slope under the gondola as you could not see the end of your ski tips anywhere else. We skied the same pitch from 9-4pm, our tracks refiling with every run. We refueled with apfel strudel, espresso, and the biggest grins I’ve seen on a ski day. Skiing off-piste is not as common in Austria, and we had our zone completely to ourselves that day. There was no pressure to go faster or slower, just to enjoy the feeling of gliding through “ze powdah”.
Photo: My run in Fieberbrunn :PC credit Freeride World Tour / D. Carlier
With the sense of complete rejuvenation, I was ready to really attack the competition. We had a long morning of weather delays (riding the gondola in the dark at 6:30am, and not starting the competition till 11:30am), but the face was filled with powder and the sun came out of nowhere.
The mountains in Europe are prodigious. While we waited at the top of the venue, I couldn’t help but look around and become inspired by my surroundings. Feeling lucky to even be a competitor on the tour, I dropped in with a new feeling of focus and happiness.
Navigating through powder, rocks, and a ton of tree shrubs, I came out of the technical section feeling happy to be on my feet and having fun…so much fun that I decided to pop off a bottom feature. For a second I landed, and then quickly tomahawked, losing my ski.
Once again I found myself in last place. It’s not the most ideal place to be, but as Jess Baker once told me- you can’t let competitions affect the way you think of yourself as a skier. They are just one run, one day.
We are now in Andorra and it’s all or nothing for this next competition. I have faith that it will all come together…and if not, that’s okay too. It’s been an awesome trip to Europe either way.