Girdwood’s Elyse Saugstad took first place in four straight free-skiing events in the Nissan Freeride World Tour. (Above) Saugstad prepares to rappel down to the start of one of her runs at the Verbier Xtreme Championship in Verbier, Switzerland. Saugstad clinched the freeskiing overall title in Verbier, Saturday, March 15.
By Mark Saugstad
Special to the Turnagain Times
Girdwood’s Elyse Saugstad took first place at the Verbier Xtreme Championship in Verbier, Switzerland on Saturday, March 15. The win gave her the overall title of World Champion on the Nissan Freeride World Tour. Her win in Verbier was her fourth straight win in four events.
Saugstad, 28, has not lost a contest since collecting her first win in Sochi, Russia in January.
The 13th edition of the Verbier Xtreme was held under clear skies on the West Face of Mont Gele’. The face had not been skied on this winter and the freeriders had great snow conditions. The descent order was decided by a flip of the coin and the women skiers won the right for the first to descend. With bib number two, Saugstad took full advantage of the good snow. Clean fast skiing on the very steep upper section, she threw in two cliff jumps to impress the judges. Her score of 242 points was more than 20 points ahead of second place finisher Jess McMillan.
In the Skier Division the USA was well represented. For the men Drew Tabke and Cody Townsend both from California, finished second and third respectively.
The USA women had an even stronger showing with the first place to Saugstad and second place by Jess McMillan. Kaj Zackrisson, of Switzerland placed first for the men and Marja Persson, of Switzerland finished in third for the women. In the Snow Boarding Division Ralph Backstrom was the only American to qualify for the event.
Saugstad said after the event, “ The entire village of Verbier embraced the freeriders, they closed off a street in the village for a post event party and it seemed like the entire village sang happy birthday to Cody Townsend when they found out it was his birthday. A huge crowd showed up to cheer the riders as they finished their run down the mountain. It was awesome!”