After two days of weather delays, 20 of freeskiing's elite dropped in to the open face of the Cirque du Fond Blanc at the 2013 Red Bull Linecatcher in Les Arcs, France, on Wednesday.
It was a local victory for France with Chamonix's Sam Favret skiing fast and aggressive with a good line choice to earn the top spot on the podium. "I had a great run," Favret said. "I landed all my tricks. I had some fun, got some powder, super good vibes. Good venue -- we want to see a spot like that every time."
American Parker White took second after boosting huge and stomping technical tricks on the jumps, including back-to-back 720s and his signature front flip. Before he even knew he was heading for the podium, he was happy. "Hands down the best contest I've done in my life," he said.
Swiss skier Nico Vuignier landed the third place spot by impressing the judges with calm, cool style and a creative line choice. "Everyone could show their skiing," Vuignier said. "There were some cliffs and rollers -- pretty much everything."
The face of the Cirque du Fond Blanc featured two drop-in zones and a wide-open canvas of ridge lines, cliffs, chutes, hand-built kickers and deep powder stashes. After several days of scoping lines, the skiers each had three opportunities to put together a run that impressed the judges with their creativity, style, and technical skill.
"It looked amazing. The snow was good," said pro skier and Linecatcher judge J.P. Auclair. "The riders were happy. The weather was beautiful. It was a perfect day."
From the beginning it was truly anyone's game. Argentinean Tomas Blanc rallied down the face first with speed and determination to set the day in motion. Leo Taillefer and Markus Eder followed. Tim Durtschi was spinning smooth rodeo 720s and the only switch 900 of the day. Dylan Hood demonstrated how summers surfing on the Oregon coast are good cross-training for dropping big airs, while Dash Longe dropped a smooth 360 over one of the cliffs transitioning to a 720. Oakley White-Allen's landed an early drop over the most exposed cliff on the face. Rory Bushfield impressed onlookers with a double backflip. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa was stomping big spins including a cork 360 and huge backflip Japan grab with a mix of style and grace despite drawing bib number 18.
"It's so deep!" the athletes called out at the bottom, one after the other. The sheer amount of snow proved to be challenging and there were a few lost skis and occasional surface slides, covering the tracks of previous skiers.
It's rare to get a crew this talented together to ski a naturally-enhanced setting and call it a contest. On Thursday, a crew will head toward Austria to film for Teton Gravity Research, others will join back up with the Swatch Freeride World Tour's next stop in Courmayeur, Italy, scheduled for this weekend, while more will head back to North America for their own projects and plans.
2013 Red Bull Linecatcher Results
1. Sam Favret, France
2. Parker White, USA
3. Nicolas Vuignier, Switzerland
4. Fabio Studer, Austria
5. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, USA
6. Dylan Hood, USA
7. Markus Eder, Italy
8. Romain Grojean, France
9. Tim Durtschi, USA
10. Dash Longe, USA