The O’Neill Xtreme by Swatch freeride contest in Verbier, Switzerland, has been placed on hold due to unfavourable weather conditions, and will not take place this weekend (20th – 21st March) Dangerously high winds and poor visibility are expected throughout the weekend on the Bec des Rosses forcing the event directors to postpone until more favourable conditions arrive. The event director continues to monitor the weather conditions, along with a team of meteorologists, and will make another evaluation of the conditions on the mountain tomorrow. It is now hoped that the 9th edition on the Xtreme will take place during next week. Another call will be made and broadcast tomorrow (20/03/04) at 17:00 hrs

Despite Verbier and the Bec des Rosses basking in near perfect snow and weather conditions for much of the week, multiple unfavourable weather fronts have slammed the breaks on the events progress. With a lengthy waiting period at the Xtreme’s disposal; the contest organisers have the advantage to wait for optimum conditions to arrive before the world’s elite freeriders get the green flag to tackle the mighty Bec des Rosses. The complex and multiple weather fronts: 2 from the west, 1 from the northwest and one from the southwest; Currently zeroing in on Verbier are the problem that has forced the postponement. Yesterday, during the riders meeting, contest director Nicolas Hale-Woods welcomed the riders to Verbier and explained the complexity of the situation they are facing.

‘It’s good to see you all here. For the first time we have skiers in the contest too; so we welcome you all and we look forward to seeing you on the Bec.’ Said Nicolas at the evening’s riders meeting. ‘The conditions on the mountain at present are really good. Yesterday with Claude Alain Gailland we hiked up and walked down in the face and the snow is still powder, and it’s looking much better than last year. The problem looking forward to the weekend is the weather. If we are forced to postpone we have the advantage of infrastructure and experience in place to wait for the perfect day. This means that when the 9th edition of the Xtreme gets underway it will make it all the more special. This is an advantage that many other events don’t have,’ he added.

As it turned out, the event has been forced to take advantage of the generous waiting period. The riders, who have been in Verbier for most of the week, savouring the bluebird conditions, were the last people to be phased by the delay. Switzerland’s Géraldine Fasnacht was happy immersing herself in the special atmosphere that only the Xtreme generates.

‘The Xtreme is a special day of the year as we all get to ride together and that’s where the fun is. It doesn’t feel like a contest because everyone just enjoys the atmosphere and hanging out together. It’s very special. Said Géraldine. ‘I just ride all the time. I like to ride really steep faces and I love finding a way through the rocks, so the waiting period and delays don’t really make a difference to my preparation. We’ll see what happens this year. Last year was great for me so I hope it is going to be ok again. I have had a bad injury in my leg for practically one month, so I haven’t been riding that much. I’m not at 100% but perhaps 90% so I hope the day of the contest everything will come together.’ She added.

Also lapping up the atmosphere and taking time to relax before the contest was O’Neill rider Alex Coudray (SUI). ‘Being back at the Xtreme this year? It’s as good as it is every year. Just surrounded by good people, good energy, and in a beautiful place with an amazing competition.’ Said Alex ‘I haven’t had a chance to check out the face of the Bec just yet because I have been so busy recently. So a delay would benefit me that’s for sure…I don’t think freeriders really have much preparation before contests. Snowboarding is what we all love to do. So any delays won’t really matter very much to us, we just want good conditions.’ He added.

Despite the postponement, the Xtreme has once again thrust Verbier into festival mode. With a busy carnival schedule taking place in the town, including the Verbier Outdoor Film Festival and street fair. The building suspense and anticipation for when the 9th edition of the Xtreme will get underway only adds to the buzz of excitement that has descended upon this special part of the Swiss Alps.

For more details contact:

Isabelle de Lalène
Freeride Association
Phone: +41 27 771 50 83
Fax: +41 27 771 50 84