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January 17, 2017 – Hakuba, Japan – History was made today on the the snow-stacked

terrain of Japan’s premier ski destination, Hakuba, Japan, situated in the Japanese Alps.

Fifty-six riders representing the international freeride community descended on the

renowned ski town to open a new chapter in the book of freeride as competitors faced off

during a 2 stars qualifier and a 4 stars main event.

The hallmark event presented a shining opportunity for the most talented skiers and

snowboarders of the international qualifying tour to take advantage of the venue’s abundant

snowfall and fantastical freeride terrain. After a week of intense snowfall, the skies briefly

cleared enough to provide riders with a chance to compete on the 270 vertical meter venue

featuring spines, treed sections, and intricate cliff zones.



Travis Rice on top of the men’s snowboard division. Hakuba FWQ 2017


Taisuke Kusunoki (JPN) 1st, Loic Burri (SUI) 2nd, Kristofer Turdell (SWE) 3rd

freeride_4_hakuba_2017-jbernard-8001 freeride_4_hakuba_2017-jbernard-8467


Snow flurries gradually diminished as the day progressed which provided improved visibility

for the first group of riders which included the legend of backcountry freestyle,  Travis Rice

(USA), whose incredible run featured a massive stomped 720 back and 360 front, making

him the undisputed champion of the day. It was a daunting task to challenge Rice’s run, but

local rider  Shin Biyajima (JAP) held his own with a powerful run and stylish grabs.

Shredding through the dense features of the forested venue,  David Vicente (ESP) came in

third place with a run that exemplified control.


The ski men category opened with lots of firepower as spectators were treated to huge

freestyle airs and flips. Not all riders were able to stomp their landings in the deep snow but

local talent  Taisuke Kusunoki (JPN) held it together with a powerful run that terminated

with a stomped backflip, earning him first place and a wild card on the elite 2017 Swatch

Freeride World Tour. He was followed in second place by a strong run from  Loic Burri

(SUI) who also landed a clean backflip.  Kristofer Turdell (SWE) nudged Ivan Malakhov

(RUS) off the podium to earn third place with a solidly stomped backflip.


Despite slightly reduced visibility and intermittent snowfall, the women snowboarders

exemplified progression with extremely powerful runs like  Anna Orlova’s (RUS) aggressive

line that put her on top of the podium.  Michaela Davis-Meehan (AUS) came in second with

an authoritative line that beat  Erika Vikander’s (USA) smooth riding while battling

challenging conditions.


Increasingly intense snow showers obscured the sun yet  Elisabeth Gerritzen’s (SUI)

motivation and training paid off today as she impressed fans with a hard-charging line from

start to finish, earning her first place. As riders got into their rhythm,  Caite Zeliff (USA)

powered through the spines and stomped a shifty in the middle of the venue. Veteran FWT

athlete  Jaclyn Paaso (USA) unleashed her signature hard charging but couldn’t maintain

enough technical perfection to finish at the top of the podium.

As the historical epicenter of Japanese freeride culture, riders and spectators were treated

to the unique Japanese ambience and hospitality of the region that hosted the 1998 Winter

Olympic Games. Freeride is gaining traction among the Asian snowsports community as

evidenced by the recent rapid growth of interest in the sport. The success of this inaugural

competition has paved the way to the possibility of the expansion of FWQ, FWT, and

Junior events in the area.

« Mind blowing action in classic Japanese conditions, two Japanese on the podium,

couldn’t be a better start for Freeride World Tour in Asia. »  Nicolas Hale-Woods, FWT


With the FWQ season now in full-swing, follow the competition circuit as hundreds of

promising freeriders from around the world vie for the few coveted qualification spots on the

elite Swatch Freeride World Tour. The most up-to-date competition info, rankings, and rider

news can be found on and the FWT/FWQ Facebook page

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