This Saturday, an elite group of skiers and snowboarders will compete in the 15th annual Verbier Xtreme, which is the fourth and final stop on the Freeride World Tour, a big-mountain competition that has traveled from Russia to Chamonix to Squaw Valley, and now, to Verbier, Switzerland. The venue for the competition is the legendary Bec de Rosses, a 2,000-foot face littered with steep chutes, mandatory airs, and high-risk exposure.
Only the top eight male skiers, six male snowboarders, three female skiers and two female snowboards from this year's tour are invited to take on the event—plus a few "wild cards." Enter Julia Mancuso, the two-time silver medalist from the Vancouver Olympic Games. She's never competed in a big-mountain competion, but hey, why not start out with the most daunting of them?
Here's what Mancuso had to say about why she's entering the event.
“Competing in the Verbier Xtreme is something that I've been wanting to do since I came to Verbier to participate in another event a couple of years ago," Mancuso says. "The Bec des Rosses is challenging. Last year when I was visiting in Verbier I knew it was something I wanted to conquer. I've never done a freeride competition but when I saw that the Xtreme was scheduled after our World Cup tour ended, I thought, 'Why not?' It’s another way I can challenge my own skiing and free skiing has always been a passion of mine.
"Growing up in Squaw (Valley, Calif.), I have had so many inspirational skiers to look up to. Of course JT Holmes and Cody Townsend have helped me push my limits, and I am really in awe of everyone out there living their passion and skiing for the love of the sport,” Mancuso added.
We'll be interested to see how she does this weekend. Follow the action at www.freerideworldtour.com.