The third stop of the Freeride World Tour in Kicking Horse, Canada, was also the last stop before the two final rounds in Fieberbrunn and Verbier. It was time for the cut. This year the women competed for a total of six tickets for the final. Among the ski men, 11 spots were up for grabs.
For the HEAD ladies, things looked pretty good. Hedvig Wessel arrived in Canada as overall leader and Jess Hotter had a win from the last stop in Andorra, plus a win from her last outing in Kicking Horse back in 2020 in good memory.
After heavy winds had moved the better part of the snow away from the originally planned comp face a decision was made by the riders and organizers to switch venue. The T1 South Face was not exactly covered in champagne powder either, but if anyone know how to put on show in spicy conditions, it’s the FWT athletes.
Hedvig Wessel, who has been stability personified so far, continued to deliver high speed solid skiing in her third appearance of the season. Big airs but no spins or flips (which she spoiled us with last season) was enough for a 7th place of the day and a 4th in the total. We’re excited to see if she will throw in some more freestyle maneuvers for the next comps, now that her ticket to the final is secured.
Jess Hotter is definitely on a roll right now. Her run down the T1 South was described as a screamer by the commentators and we couldn’t agree more. A big cliff drop high up followed by a straight Japan air and big, high speed turns took her all the way to the second place on the podium and in to the yellow bib, the sign of the overall leader. YES, JESS, YES!
Abel Moga had his spot in the final secured before he dropped in but did not play it safe. The massive backflip he throw turned out to be a little too massive and the double ejection that followed resulted in a NS (No Score). Abel didn’t seem too worried about all that as he raised his arms to the sky and received the love and cheers from the crowd.
Carl Regnér, who dropped in as number 13, was also in the privileged position of not having to rely on the score in Canada to reach the finals. Whether it was the number of his bib or the fat to flat features that caused his fall after an inverted 360 attempt we can only speculate, but he managed to keep his skis attached and get enough points to keep him in the top 5 in the total ranking.
For kiwi Blake Marshall on the other hand, it was all or nothing. After two 10th places in the initial competitions, he was just out of the cut and needed to bring his A-game to bump him into the finals. He started off strong and technical with a big cliff and a massive 360, almost clipping a tree in the landing, and kept the momentum all the way to the finish line. This turned out to be Blakes best result of the season, 8th place of the day, but it was still 340 points short of making the cut. Last year Tao Kreibich found himself in a similar position but was giving a wild card to the finals. Let’s see what happens next for our FWT heroes.