Posts Tagged ‘FWQT’

I couldn’t have been more stoked to arrive in San Francisco late in February.  I was coming into the fourth stop of the Freeride World Tour with fresh steam after my latest win and knowing my amazing girlfriend was arriving the following day. A quick night in San Fran catching up with old friends and Grain Surfboards was had and I was reunited with Sofi the next day. We hit the road for Lake Tahoe where we spent a couple days lounging, shredding and prepping for the next few weeks and 2,000+ mile journey ahead.


IMG_7761Sofi enjoying her first days in California!


My fellow FWT comrade, Brian Bozack, scooped us up and led us on a quick tour of his home resort in Tahoe, Sugar Bowl on what was one of the best days of the season. We then shot across the desert for Snowbird, Utah and the fourth stop of the FWT.

The contest was meant to run immediately, but an avalanche on the contest face (again) left the FWT management scrambling to sort out a new venue. Silver Fox was proposed to us and many athletes had mixed opinions as it was in bounds, skied by the public daily and because of that, a field of moguls. However fresh snow was on the forecast and we were granted an in course inspection, something rare on the FWT. The contest went ahead and I was feeling really positive about my line choice and chances on the venue.

IMG_7663Scoping lines with John Rodosky and Tom Burt.


IMG_7668 Silver Fox, the back up venue at Snowbird.

I put down a big method right off the top and went into a quick air through the top section and then into one of the best backside 360’s I’ve ever done in a contest. I rode out and into my next set of features which were a bit close. On my first, my landing was a bit weak as I was attempting to slow down to spin the next feature. This landing through me off so I changed my mind and straight aired a funky air, then into the next.  My mind was already off and I was unable to pull the air I wanted, but stuck it and rode away towards the finish line. Unfortunately I tried to pull one last slash at the bottom and got hung up in the funky snow and crashed right before the finish! IDIOT!


Check out my run here!

My score came in putting me into 7th place where I stayed as I was one of the last riders. I was happy with my line choice, but disappointed with my riding as I knew my chances for re-qualifying were that much more slim.

We hit the road early heading for Jackson Hole where we skied a mushy spring day and headed next for Bozeman, Montana, my west coast hub. Tracy and Gabe put us up for a few days to relax and recover before making the 18+ hour journey to Revelstoke, Canada.

 IMG_7669Shredding the legendary Jackson Hole with Sofi!


We had an epic crew for this journey consisting of (Sofi, the Chickering-Ayers brothers, Hadley Hammer and Sasha Dingle). The journey was a riot and after one blow out, a night in Fernie and a few detours for hot springs etc, we arrived in Revelstoke for the last and most anticipated stop on the FWT.


IMG_7696Silas keeping spirits high on the road.

IMG_7693Captain Larz dealing to the mega blow out.


Conditions were not looking great as a huge warm cycle was increasing instability in the snowpack by the hour. On our inspection day, ski patrol took to the air to heli bomb the face as they typically would. A ten kilo charge was dropped on the top cornice and did not explode for about two minutes. In that time the cornice dropped from the top ridge which was enough to trigger a slide as wide as most of the middle of the face, ruining our chances to compete on the legendary Mac Daddy Face. Just minutes after our riders meeting explaining the circumstances, another human triggered slide occurred on a different aspect in the back country and within reach of our crew. A heli was put in the air and patrol eventually rescued the punter that triggered it.  Needless to say conditions were scary and not getting any better.

 IMG_7705The legendary Mac Daddy Face of Revelstoke.


After seeing these events and hearing of the 50 year avalanche down in Rogers Pass, the FWT management made the decision to cancel the event leaving many riders, myself included, unable to have a chance to qualify for Verbier and for next season.


Gutted, but relieved the FWT season was complete for me, we spent our last day sledding with local legend Scotty Heale and another Kiwi and old friend Dre. This was the best part of the trip as Sofi got to check out snowmobiling and we got an amazing view of the available terrain accessible from Revelstoke. Unfortunately we blasted out the next day, but I can’t wait to go back.


IMG_7721 Kiwi/Revelstoke legend, Scott Heale showing Sof the goods!


Drew Tabke whisked us away to Seattle where we spent a night with one of my cousins, however we scurried away early the next morning for the journey South to San Fran for another cousin’s wedding a few days later. Robin our Craigslist Rideshare Captain had just purchased a rare RV Campervan and was making the journey south back to California and seeking company. As soon as we stepped on board I realized the journey may be a bit longer than anticipated. About 10 hours later we made it about 300 miles to Eugene, Oregon, about 1/3 of the distance to San Francisco.  Not ideal, however an old friend saved us from a night in the van and we carried on the next morning for San Francisco, making it just in time for the wedding and a rad family reunion.


IMG_7740Robin’s legendary 1973 Chevy TVS-4 RV (STRIPES Version)


IMG_7827A rare West Coast McInnis family reunion.

IMG_7828Half Moon Bay


IMG_7829Our new whip, thanks Kiel and Olivia

We didn’t stay in the city very long and we were fortunate enough to move into a new Alaskan rig for the next leg of the journey.  Patty, pictured above, was lent to us for an undetermined amount of time by some generous friends and Sofi and I were off back to the Sierra Nevada mountains to see what might shake out next.



After my debut on the Freeride World Tour I was in need of a break from contests.  I was seeking good friends, lots of powder and no stress.  The break from competing lasted about two days, but the powder and amigos came in bounds.


Ruari MacFarlane and I were dropped off in Silvaplana, Switzerland the day after the Kappl FWT stop hungover and unsure if we were even at the right mountain.  We were told we were invited into the Engadine Snow FWQT 3 Star stop but we didn’t know much else.  A registration desk magically appeared along with lift tickets and lunch passes and we soon found ourselves dressed in snowboard gear riding up the tram.  As soon as we took our first turns, we knew we made a good decision and our hangovers were long gone.  We caught up with some other competitors and rode amazing powder for two days leading up to the contest.


Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 7.21.31 AMRuari shooting down at me with his GoPro in one of the many insane pillow zones.


Unfortunately the contest went terribly as I picked off a heavy line and I didn’t execute.  However, it was the winning run for the male skier category, so if I had pulled it off a bit more fluidly, it would have scored highly.  Below is a photo of my friend Juan Bergada executing it like a boss.  Out of 100 riders, only three of us entered this heavy double with a hairy landing that isn’t shown below.


Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 3.12.06 PMJuan Bergada skiing like a boss.

With that contest over, we had one day before the Engadine Snow Invitational commenced.  This event has about as much history in competitive freeride snowboarding as Verbier.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be one of the most fun and unique competitions I’ve ever done on a board.  The concept was a parallel freeride with teams of two facing off against other teams of two.  I was a late entrant and did not have a team mate, but fortunately my friend Ally Watson was about and we entered as ‘Team Scottish Roots’ against the classics – Austria, Switzerland, Argentina, etc…


Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 3.09.22 PMHalf of Team Scotland vs Team Swiss.

 IMG_7372Getting ready to repel 50 meters into the face.

IMG_7371The crew looking up at the North Face of the Corvatsch.


Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 4.29.05 PMTeam Scottish Roots on the legendary North Face of the Corvatsch.

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 4.29.17 PM

Team Scotland wrapping it up.

I think it was perhaps the deepest snow I’ve ever ridden in a contest and any plans to do any tricks flew out the window as the snow billowed over my shoulders with each turn.  Once again, my competitive edge did not shine and Ally and I were knocked out after the first round.  Fortunately Team Argentina led by local Lucas Swyiekowski and Juan Bergada took out first place.  There are a handful of videos to go with this event, so I have posted my favorite here.  To check out more, please visit the Engadin Snow Website or their Facebook page.  Thanks to Christian Mueller for hosting such a rad event and I hope to be back next year!



After three contests in a week, I was ready to relax.  The Corvatsch did not relent though as the snow kept falling, the free lift tickets kept flowing and the Argentine mafia kept skiing.  I couldn’t resist and took part in about five days of absolutely insane riding.  It was the best week I’ve had in a long time and I was able to fall in love with snowboarding again.  I will have some epic POV footage somewhere but have yet to review it!

   IMG_7422The Argentine Mafia showing Nadine Wallner and our crew around the area.  Ropes don’t matter in Europe…

IMG_7421Local legend, Lucas Swyiekowski showing me around his other home-base in Switzerland.

IMG_7324The snow in this area has been all time.  This shot was taken after our first day, just at the base of the hill. 

IMG_7352Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip was Friday Night Lights, where the tram is open until 2:00 AM and fortunately for us, there was nearly 3 feet of blower pow to shred in the dark!

We left Switzerland in a hurry and ended up back in Chamonix.  I took a flight the following day to Spain and next a bus to Andorra, a rad wee country in the Pyrenes.  Two contests drew me there, however I didn’t have a spot in either of them as the riders list was full.  I did however get on the judging panel for the first 3 Star event, known as the Grand Valira Freeride.  It was my first proper judging experience so I didn’t know what to expect, especially in Andorra. I was pleasantly surprised as I was treated super well by the event organisers, had a blast hanging with my fellow comrades, Lolo Besse, a Freeride World Tour Judge, and Bruno Compagnet, Co-Founder of Black Crows Skis, the mountain was tons of fun and our accomodation at the Mountain Hostel Tarter was epic.  I wanted to judge in order to learn more about what the judges see and how to upskill myself in contest runs.  Although the job was difficult to decide who deserved what points, I found it super helpful for my riding.

 IMG_7464Gaining a fresh perspective.


Lolo Besse, French freeride legend teaching me how to carve.


I was granted a late entry to the El Dorado Four Star FWQT event in Andorra the following week.  I needed a solid result in order to be in the running for re-qualifying onto the Tour and I knew the level would be high with the Euros in their own alpine setting.  The snow appeared variable, but on the qualifying day, it couldn’t have been better at the top.  The venue was steep but with a bottomless 30-50 cm anything was possible.  At the top I found myself picking and choosing between the most fun features, something I rarely do, but about two minutes before my run, I settled with one line and let it rip.  The top section was really playful and I had landed five airs before rolling into the bottom section.  I changed my line at the bottom which was an error and I didn’t land a cliff well costing me the top run of the day, however I ended up in 2nd going into the finals.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 2.40.42 AM

The heli ride is always more fun than the contest.

IMG_7588Loose as heli pad.

The finals were heli-accessed and the venue and conditions were completely different than the day before.  I found it to be much more Kiwi than anything else.  20 riders were flown to the top and I had to battle it out with five other snowboarders for the top spot.  I picked my line from the bottom up, again something I rarely do, but it seemed to work well.  I was the last snowboarder to drop in and the snow conditions had changed drastically. On my second turn I nearly got sluffed over a sizeable cliff due to the wet slide I triggered on my first turn, but held it together, landed the air and rode into my next double confident and fast.  Clearing this boney feature I had some fast paced turns through a wide open section before taking a blind mandatory air into a lower chute, leading into a method right above my last final chute out.  The run was fast and border line out of control, potentially due to the fact that I was riding my splitboard, but I felt great coming through the gate at the bottom.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 2.39.42 AMFirst air with sluff chasing me down.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 2.39.09 AMCommitted for the mandatory air into the lower section.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 2.43.15 AMMethod above the final chute out.


My run turned out to be enough and I took home the top spot and a handful of Euros.  My good friends Sintu and Mariona whisked me away out of Andorra and into Barcelona by sunset.  I said goodbye to them after a short catch up and flew back to Geneva at 11:00 PM.  Another friend scooped me up and I was soon off to Chamonix to clean up the rest of my scattered gear and life from the two months prior.  With just enough time for a 3 hour nap, I departed for Geneva at 7:00 AM and caught my flight back to the USA.  Mission complete!

Screen shot 2014-03-02 at 5.32.01 PMSplitboarding my way to first place!

For my first trip to Europe, I was totally stoked with all the amazing locations and the chance to spend time with old and new friends.  So many people helped to make this trip happen and I’m blessed to have such great friends.  See you next year!





Earlier this season I was approached by good friend, Lachlan Humphreys of the Daily Dump Snow Report to see if I would be interested in collaborating on a filming project for the 2013 NZ Winter season.  Given the time frame and what we were looking to accomplish, I agreed and A NZ Freeride Story was born.


We took the month of August to shoot four episodes and will re-visit the project for the final two episodes in early October.  Although the official episodes are not yet released, I thought I would post a few photos and videos highlighting what we’ve been up to so far.


To keep posted on the videos, please LIKE our FACEBOOK PAGE! 




Getting it done at the Opening Ceremony for the World Heli Challenge.


Lachlan getting the shot and generally pointing the camera at my at all opportunities.


Stef Zeestraten deep in the white room behind TC.


Same TC zone, different characters – Patagonia Ambassadors and Jones Riders Alex Yoder and Forest Shearer scoping my backyard.


Helluva surprise birthday party thrown into the middle.  Thanks Sofi and Richie!


We were stoked to spend 5 days at Temple Basin, NZ’s freeride mecca with Chief of Operations and bad ass Todd Windle.


Sitting at the top of a ridge waiting to drop at the Black Diamond Big Mountain at Temple Basin.


Hiking lines at Temple with a posse scattered down the ridge.


Freshies at Treble Cone.


Lake Wanaka water sports.

Lachlan’s winning edit for the World Heli Challenge ION Clip:

Sneak preview of Episode 2 of a NZ Freeride Story – Lachlan’s edit for the World Heli Challenge: