Local heros on the podium at Sedrun
At the last tour stop of the Eco Freeride Tour (EFT) the Graubünden locals performed well in all categories. Armin Beeli of Sagogn dominated ski men. Linda Camathias and Roman Schmid placed second in snowboard women and snowboard men respectively. The EFT featured two additional stops this year; one in Bergün and one in the Val Senales (IT).
Under a bluebird sky the participants arrived on the Oberalp pass by train on Friday morning. As in previous years everyone gathered by the Guesthouse Piz Calmot to register for the tour stop before they started their hike up to the Maighels hut SAC. As the contest was going to take place on Saturday the participants used Friday for individual tours. Some didn’t even ascend directly to the hut, instead making their way via Piz Calmot and the Rossbodenstock. Others – after the warm welcome at the hut – went on tours on some of the surrounding peaks. The riders who decided to take it easy and enjoy the sunshine at the hut got to see some impressive runs by the locals on Piz Tagliola.
In the evening the head organiser Markus Boss informed the riders about the contest on Saturday. Due to high temperatures the contest would need to be held on a northern exposure. A suitable face was chosen on Piz Nair. The peak has been a favourite of the EFT since its beginnings and was run whenever possible in the past, but this year marked the first time that the organisers were able to hold the contest for all categories on it.
If it was due to nerves or because of the wonderful weather isn’t sure, but even though they wouldn’t need to be ready until eight the participants already gathered for breakfast before seven on the morning of the contest day. The riders didn’t seem to be able to wait to get outside. The photo and film crew already went on ahead to find the perfect camera positions for the upcoming event. It was decided to split the face into two sections, each with their own position from which to film the runs.
After the participants arrived at the finish line Markus Boss informed all the riders about the inherent risks in freeriding and starting order.
After the briefing the riders hiked up for another thirty to fifty minutes to get to their starting positions. The around 300m wide north-east flank of Piz Nair provided a multitude of line choices with drops of all heights and terrain for all skill levels.
First category out of gate 1, situated on a shoulder west of the summit, was snowboard men. Some riders tried to build some freestyle moves into their lines, others decided to stay safely on their feet and concentrated on showing a fluid line with photogenic slashes, all were greeted by cheers from their fellow riders at the finish line. The weather and snow conditions being perfect many riders decided to hike up again for a second run.
Stoked by their good runs and kissed by the sun all eventually made their way back to the Maighels hut.
The video presentation of the runs that evening was a popular affair. Even skiers and boarders not taking part in the event and that only knew freeriding from TV or the ski resorts wanted to watch. Everyone needed to get close together to make enough space. As usual the lines were judged by the riders themselves. They were graded in the categories of line choice, fluidity, control as well as air & style.
A creative line, run fluidly, with maybe one or two jumps could possibly win the day at the EFT. The local Armin Beeli knew this and decided to spice things up by adding speed and a perfectly stomped 360 at the end. His efforts were rewarded with a clear victory. It was nice to see Armin, who had taken part in the Kick the Vik since its inception without ever making the podium before, be rewarded for his efforts at last. Second place went to Raphael Imsand, an Outdoor Research athlete from the Wallis. He was one of the few that started his line from the second gate and showed line with a minimum of turns through the summit chute of the Piz Nair exiting at high speed and still landing a sizeable drop at the end of his line. Throughout the run he managed to demonstrate his fluid style and unwavering control. Third place went to Marco Tribbelhorn of the Toggenburg who currently lives in Laax.
In the women’s category Alba Wunderlin chose a completely different line from the others and was able to win the day by adding a few straight airs and a nicely dropped 360 off a cornice. Linda Camathias from Laax placed second with a clean and fluidly run line and third place went to Simone Feyerabend from Germany.
Ruben Arnold showed the first run of the day and managed to win in his category of snowboard men with a stylish and controlled run showing his signature playful interpretation of the face. This was his second victory at the EFT after already winning in Bergün. Roman Schmid from Laax was able to get second place. Third went to no one less than the European chief of marketing for Outdoor Research and local representative of the main sponsor, Guido Anderwert.
After the award ceremony many chose to enjoy good company with conversation and games and stayed up to the early hours of morning.
As in the previous days the sun warmed the faces of the participants and everyone was motivated to get outside. For the last day of the event the organisers and mountain guides from Gravity Line offered various courses for the participants to take part in. Especially “belaying and abseiling in firn snow” struck the riders interest. This shows in what direction the sport is progressing. Free tourers, as these riders are called nowadays, are always on the search for the perfect descent and if it takes ropes and safety equipment to get to it then they are more than happy to learn the necessary techniques. Those techniques aren’t only good for accessing the good runs, they can easily be adapted to rescue situations and as such the skills learned were perfect for the participants of the EFT.
While some decided to stay on for another tour in the area others got started on their way home in the morning already. The first day of daylight savings time put a smile on the riders faces and warmed their hearts on the way home.
The weekend was simply amazing and the organisers would like to take this opportunity to thank the participants and the sponsors Outdoor Research, Giro, Salomon, Evoc, Suunto and Dynastar as well as the Maighels hut SAC and all other sponsors and supporters.
The rankings were as follows:
1. Alba Wunderlin (SUI)
2. Linda Camathias (SUI)
3. Simone Feyerabend (GER)
1. Armin Beeli (SUI)
2. Raphael Imsand (SUI)
3. Marco Tribelhorn (SUI)
1. Ruben Arnold (SUI)
2. Roman Schmid (SUI)
3. Guido Anderwert (SUI)