The 2016 Swatch Freeride World Tour returned to Haines at the end of March. It was the fourth stop on the tour, and one that Southeast Alaskan Ryland Bell won in the men’s snowboarding category.
“I am just really happy and stoked. The snow is perfect. Last night I saw this line that was really calling to me, and everything came together and worked out. It feels good, especially on the home turf,” Bell said, according to an email from Americas manager Tom Winter.
American skier Drew Tabke of Seattle was also a highlight in Winter’s mind, he said.
“It is so fantastic for Ryland to win in Haines. He was a wild card in 2015 and had a rough ride,” Winter said. “This was really redemption for him. He crushed his run and it was no question that he was the best on the face that day. Drew brings a different kind of mentality to the Swatch Freeride World Tour. He’s an artist. I thought he skied one of the best runs in Andorra, really fluid and creative.”
Tabke said “I’m super happy to have a podium in Alaska. The Bec is important — Verbier is important — but for me Alaska is the big one, so this is a pretty big deal for me.” (The Bec des Rosses, a mountain in the Pennine Alps, overlooks Verbier, Switzerland, where the skiers and snowboarders are competing in early April.)
“I got to ski an untracked spine pow (powder) run for a podium finish, so it was a kind of dream come true,” Tabke added.
Winter wrote that the snow quality in Alaska “really needs no introduction. Alaska has its reputation for a reason. But the real challenge for the athletes here is that the venue, called “The Venue” is really two venues in one. You have the upper section, very steep, technical with massive cliff and pillow lines, then a relatively mild middle section and a lower section that at any other mountain would easily be a stand-out competition venue in its own right, so it’s really two venues in one. That means that the athletes have to up their focus and stay on it from top to bottom as it is so long and you need to come into the bottom part rocking and rolling because the run isn’t over and there are a ton of points you can grab on the lower section.”
Watch Tabke’s ride at http://freerideworldtour.com/calendar/swatch-freeride-world-tour-vallnord-arcalis-andorra-2016
The Tour’s final weekend is April 2 to April 10 in Verbier, Switzerland. It streams live at http://freerideworldtour.com/calendar/swatch-xtreme-verbier-2016.
The link to the Haines event is http://www.dailymotion.com/FreerideWorldTourTV