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

Freeride gets day in the sunshine; competitor skirts avalanche


Freeride World Tour athletes braved deep snow on a steep mountain face March 24 after waiting a week for safe enough weather to compete.

Although riders said conditions were good, an avalanche tested the skills of Swedish skier Reine Barkered. A soft top layer of snow broke free from the mountain face as he was on it.

Barkered said the Freeride guides warned the athletes that day of pockets of instability on the face of “The Venue,” the mountain near Little Jarvis Glacier and 35 Mile Haines Highway that the group has chosen for the competition the past three years.

Barkered said the sun had warmed the spot where he skied and caused some snow to melt, “tipping the scale” for an avalanche. “Things got liquid really quickly,” he said, describing his first experience with an avalanche.

Barkered said one person had skied down the same area before him with no problem, but as the avalanche began, he was able to ski to the side and avoid the fallout.

“You don’t really think, you just do,” he said.

Barkered placed fourth in the men’s ski division. “It’s so much fun. You don’t get this anywhere else,” he said.

First-place finisher and French skier Loic Collomb-Patton said he was never nervous about the risk of avalanches, trusting the guides who skied down before the athletes. He said he’d been to Haines before, placing second in the division last year. He changed his path down the mountain this year to clinch the top spot.

American snowboarder Shannan Yates said overall conditions on the mountain were pretty stable.

She said the dry maritime snowpack in Haines was fantastic, but she was nervous that fog that delayed the competition for an hour that morning would return. Yates won first place in women’s snowboard division. In 2015, she won second place overall on the tour.

“I used experience to my advantage,” Yates said. “Through that I really enjoy my runs and do well.”

Men’s snowboarder Ryland Bell was one of four competitors this year who previously lived in Alaska. Bell won first place at the Haines stop in 2016, and last week fell one spot to finish behind American Sammy Luebke for second place.

Italian skier Arianna Tricomi took first in the women’s ski division. Most competitors left Haines Sunday and will move on to Verbier, Switzerland for the final stop on the tour.


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