The Freeride World Tour 5-star event in Hakuba had to be cancelled last week… due to too much snow!
Holding any kind of ski or snowboard competition is putting yourself at the mercy of the weather, and a freeride competition doubly so. The FWT had bad luck in Japan once again. Despite the best efforts of the organisers, first moving the venue to a lower elevation, then spending standby days waiting it out in the storms, the event was finally cancelled due to ice exposed by the high winds that came along with the snowstorm. Huge praise must go out to the FWT staff and volunteers, Hakuba Village, and the guides from Evergreen Backcountry Guides who spent countless hours in the storms, just on the off-chance the weather would lift, working to make the venue safe.
Hurry up and wait: After a 4:30am start, being towed up the access road by sleds, beacon check, and hiking in, there was nothing for it but waiting and talking shop. The viewers on the other end of the event live feed were looking forward to see these four guys do their thing: Reigning FWT champ, Sammy Leubke, Gigi Ruf Travis Rice and Terje:
Gigi comes back from a recon mission for pillows… or anything he could see:
Terje contemplates the course features… and if the weather will lift:
Tadashi Fuse took shelter while the riders were on weather hold at the base:
The riders hiked up to the competition face from below into the storm:
The lower face, with plenty of features to get rad on, got the nod of approval from legends like Terje that it would showcase freeride snowboarding well – with the right conditions. Unfortunately, as the 7-day weather window ticked by, that moment never came. So we will have to wait another year to see the world’s best freeriders throw down in a five star FWT event in Hakuba, but that doesn’t mean the riders didn’t enjoy Japan!
A group of professional freeriders stuck in Hakuba for a week? With event on hold from too much snow? Yes, you know what they did…
Gigi had been ripping around Japan with his Union teammates in the weeks before the event, and didn’t stop in Hakuba:
Many were looking forward to seeing Tadashi Fuse bring his powerful powder style to the competition. Here’s his snapshot from the week:
Swedish veteran freerider Christoffer Granbom loved Japan so much he sent it to flat like a teenager:
Davey Baird, a name to watch out for on the FWT from Alaska, sums up the fun the riders had in all conditions this week:
This video from the FWT sums up the waiting game for the athletes well. Next year, Hakuba, next year…
…while this edit from Terje, filmed right before the weather closed in for the FWT week, shows what could have been. Next year, Hakuba, next year…