At the end of the Alpine World Cup tour earlier in the month, Julia Mancuso accepted the chance to be a wild card entry in the Nissan Xtreme close to the 2010 Freeride World Tour at Verbier, skiing down the 600 meter vertical face of the Bec des Rosses. It was her first freeride competition, and she continued the strong streak she has been riding since the Olympic games, clocking the fastest time down the mountain and placing third behind overall [defending and 2010] champion Ane Enderud (Norway) and second ranked Jess McMillan (USA).
It is a pretty epic affair, hiking up the mountain, being filmed by helicopters and jumping over natural rock features to the bottom and arriving in one piece. The point being to confront the nature of the mountain, un-groomed for competition. It does not look safe. Not a bit.
Competitors are judged by a panel of three skiers and snowboarders who take into consideration the difficulty of the skier’s choice of line, the fluidity of their run, quality of the jumps, the level of control demonstrated and of course– crashes. Obviously crashes go down a lot in ski competitions and freeriding, as one may surmise, sees a fair amount of carnage. The final score is based on the overall impression the rider makes on the judges.
Mancuso missed a few features towards the bottom, surprised by the speed she built up: “I followed J.T. Holmes’ advice not to stall before taking the jump and I got so much speed I missed some features in the end.”
After the race she tweeted and posted a status on Facebook; “3rd place in Verbier Xtreme! so fun to be out here with all these ripping girls! they were impressive, pushing their limits! glad to be down safe :)”