FWT Update From Austria

Greetings from the Alps!

Lots of people are asking and wondering about the recent events here, so this is a brief update:

We are currently in Austria for the second stop of the Freeride World Tour. After a fall at the first stop in Chamonix, I came to Kappl looking to regain my momentum.

FWT Austria Trip Report, Blister Gear Review
Heli-ing the Start to the top of the Venue, Kappl, Austria.

After the women’s event on Monday, we were transferred from our originally scheduled venue in Fieberbrunn (near Kitzbuhel) to Kappl, in the Arlberg region of Austria, after officials determined that both venues were either too low on snow, or presented conditions too dangerous for competition.

FWT Austria Trip Report, Blister Gear Review
FWT Kappl Venue: everything looker’s left of the black line and below it. (photo by David Carlier)

Here at Kappl conditions are excellent, with 1.4 meters of new snow just this week. Powder Heaven.

FWT Austria Trip Report, Blister Gear Review
Garrett Altmann at the Start, Kappl, Austria.

Unfortunately, the new snow also brought unstable conditions, and on Monday alone, there were 10 avalanche fatalities throughout the Alps.

Despite the avalanche control around the Kappl venue over the past 24 hours, a big slide released during the competition this morning when the 2nd competitor, Julien Lopez, started hiking back up to retrieve his ski after crashing on a landing.

Although the shelf he was hiking on released and carried him down a couple hundred meters, he deployed his airbag and was able to ski away from the slide, relatively unharmed.

After the slide, the event was cancelled.

I then began skiing the “safe zone” down with my descent partner Stephan Hausl, and he also triggered a slide that blocked similarly to the first one of the day, and ran approximately 300 meters.

FWT Austria Trip Report, Blister Gear Review
FWT Venue at Kappl, Austria, with Tuesday’s slide.

Unlike Fieberbrunn, where I was feeling strong and was able to visualize a line that could have landed me on the podium, I feel like today’s cancellation at Kappl may have worked in my favor, considering some issues I was having—like dialing in my line, battling the flu, and worrying about other avalanche pockets that could release.

Similar to last year, the venue at Kappl is very deceiving. The treeless slopes with blind takeoffs make studying photos versus actually skiing the features quite tricky.

After this morning’s cancellation, the Freeride World Tour will now have a ten-day hiatus before we start back up again in Andorra, with two events there to make up for the cancellation.

In the meantime, there should be plenty of good powder skiing with all this new snow.

Be safe out there, everybody.

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