After several competition delays, riders were finally treated to epic powder on the stunning terrain of the most coveted freeride peaks on the planet for the Freeride World Tour stop in Haines, AK.
The remaining qualified twenty-seven athletes of the Swatch Freeride World Tour competed today on the so-called "dream stop" and last competition before the season finale in Verbier, Switzerland. Always a highly anticipated event due to the renowned terrain and remote nature of the competition site, the level was exceptionally high as riders exploited their final opportunity to earn points before the final.
Unsettled weather marked the days preceding the event but this morning the skies cleared and revealed nearly perfect snow conditions on the 760m vertical meter (2493ft) Alaskan face. Riders and spectators were treated to one of the most spectacular competitions in FWT history.
If anyone could give top snowboarder Sammy Luebke (USA) a run for his money, it was local favorite and wild card Ryland Bell (USA). Bell opened up the day's competition with a stunning line featuring two spins off big airs. Bell's Alaskan experience was not enough to dethrone Luebke's artful run of stomped airs and a smooth 360. Earning first place in Haines was enough for Luebke to claim the title of world champion one stop before the end of his nearly immaculate season.
Sammy Luebke, 2017 World Champion Snowboard Men: "I am pretty fired up that all this waiting time paid off. Conditions were blower and the safety seemed to be good; no avalanches, nobody got hurt, and everybody is happy!"
Shannan Yates (USA) is one step closer to the title today as she tapped into her experience and linked several airs in a more technical part of the venue, earning first place. Despite being close on Yates' tail, Marion Haerty (FRA) was not able to secure the coveted title of world champion today and settled for second place position.
Shannan Yates, 1st Snowboard Women: "I just found out that I won. I am ecstatic! This is such a beautiful day. There were a lot of questions about the weather and what would actually happen; we had the fog and the waiting game and the snow was so so fantastic! I skied my line where I was planning on going. I may not have done it as smooth as I would have liked, but I had fun."
Check out more from the FTW here.