25. May, 2011 ,

The GORE-TEX Freeride Challenge 2011 has been decided. And the winner is…

At the grand final of the Grand Raid GORE-TEX MASTERS in Tignes Damian Camathias from Laax claims a convincing victory over the other three finalists. He can now look forward to an unforgettable trip to Argentina with some of the world’s best freeriders.

The opportunity to spend two weeks with Seb Michaud and some of the world’s best freeriders in Argentina’s best off-piste powder: what might well be the unattainable dream of many freeriders is actually the sensational first prize in this year’s GORE-TEX Freeride Challenge. So it was hardly surprising that nearly 800 participants from twelve different countries responded to the four online challenges on Facebook. They all wanted to qualify for the final round and be one of the four amateur freeriders to take part in the Grand Raid GORE-TEX MASTERS in Tignes/France. This race was to decide which of the finalists would travel to Argentina. The finalists were Carola Bader and Daniel Staub  from Germany, Philipp Stohner from Austria and Damian Camathias from Switzerland.

The grand final at the Grand Raid GORE-TEX Masters

The four finalists were given a wild card to take part in the final of the 20th GRAND RAID GORE-TEX Masters. This was their chance to demonstrate their freeriding techniques to Seb Michaud and the rest of the jury. Prior to the start of the anniversary race on the Saturday, Gore had an unexpected surprise in store for the freeriders: because the race wouldn’t take place until the evening they could spend the day warming up and preparing for the race. At about 7 p.m. the lifts opened again to take the Grand Raid participants up the mountain. Eighteen highly motivated teams competed in a memorable qualification race in the rarefied atmosphere of the evening mountains. After the race the participants and organisers ended the day by sitting round a camp fire under the stars before spending the night in two enormous yurts.

On the Sunday the participants were picked up by helicopter and taken in brilliant sunshine to where the first race of the day was taking place. The mood was good and a total of five races were held, each with 600 to 800 m altitude difference. Ex-champion Seb Michaud was the first to race each of the courses (despite a broken arm). Afterwards he watched the four finalists of the GORE-TEX Freeride Challenge. All the participants in the anniversary race were highly motivated. This was reflected in the extremely fast times but unfortunately also in the number of falls. Two teams even had to drop out of the competition because of injuries. This meant that the placings in one of the five competitions couldn’t count towards the overall result – something that had never happened before in the 20-year history of the event.

Carola, Daniel, Philip and Damian managed to cross the finishing line of all five races and made the best of their opportunity to demonstrate their freeriding techniques to Seb Michaud and the rest of the jury – even if they didn’t make it onto the winners’ rostrum. Cédric Pugin and Jaques Chaudan repeated their victory of last year. Fabien Meynet and Olivier Meynet were second and the “Tem De Base” team was third.

Nevertheless, what the 2,000 Facebook Fans of the GORE-TEX Freeride Challenge and, needless to say, the four finalists really wanted to know was who would be given the chance to go to Argentina as part of the “SEB MICHAUD INVITACION” programme. Understandably, the atmosphere was tense as the winners were announced. At the end of the day it was Damian Camathias from Laax who had the best technique and was the most experienced skier. This summer he will spend 15 days with some of the best freeriders in the world (e.g. Enak Gavaggio, Phil Meier and Ane Enderud).

For further information and photos: www.facebook.com/GORETEX.SnowsportsProduct