Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Freeride coming down to the wire


The fate of the 2017 Freeride World Tour in Haines will come down to weather and slope conditions Friday and Saturday.

The event was delayed through Thursday this week due to dangerous avalanche and low light conditions on slopes.

That leaves the Freeride crew with only two days until the staged, international event moves on to its final destination in Verbier, Switzerland. The group is permitted with the Haines Borough to heliski through Saturday.

Head of communications Alicia Cenci said finale events start in Verbier on March 30 and run April 1-9.

Athletes were set to compete on Tuesday at “The Venue,” a mountain face near Little Jarvis Glacier at 35 Mile Haines Highway.

Athletes were lifted by helicopter to the site Tuesday morning. The event’s website and social media said the competition was a go, and the live video feed was on standby until about noon, when the event was called off for avalanche risk.

Cenci said the mountain face was “loaded” with snow, and still needed time to settle.

The Freeride World Tour website said, “After careful assessment by the mountain guides, event organizers have decided to wait for the snowpack to further stabilize after the recent snowfall. The competition window extends through Saturday, March 25, and the next possibility for a competition will be announced as soon as possible.”

Erik Stevens, director of the Haines Avalanche Center, said conditions vary from slope to slope, but he’s heard reports that a “persistent” weak layer of snow under a “wind slab” layer has been causing issues for local skiers.

“They’ve been using the word ‘sketchy’ to describe it,” Stevens said.

The avalanche forecast on the Alaska Avalanche Information Center website Wednesday stated the area was under “considerable” danger of avalanches.

Cenci said the competition was canceled both Wednesday and Thursday because of “flat light” that would make it hard for skiiers and snowboarders to see the terrain.

“This happened two years ago and we were able to ski, so we’re keeping hope,” Cenci said.


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