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A Birds Eye view - Alex Cove, Verbier
Sunday March 29, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

The Xtreme Verbier is one of the most spectacular snowsports events as the best freeriders in the world battle it out. PlanetSKI had the best seat in the house.

The best place to watch the event is from the Col des Gentiannes, which is directly opposite the mighty Bec des Rosses; the competition face itself.

And the best place on the Col des Gentiannes is in the enclosed area where the riders assemble and the judges peer through their binoculars.

I was lucky enough to be one of the favoured few allowed in.

The Xtreme Verbier is celebrating its 20th year and it is doing it with style.

There were monstrous queues for the lifts as hoardes of people flocked up to the Col des Gentiannes to watch the riders come down the daunting face of the Bec des Rosses.

It is the biggest event Verbier holds all winter and people in town talk about it in hushed and excited tones as the big day approaches.

The main road is closed off and the buses are diverted.

Pop up bars and food stalls appear with thousands of freeriders, party people and just the plain curious in town.

Due to safety reasons and the lack of snow the event organisers had to move the start from the top of the mountain into three different starting points a little lower down.

Doing this it allowed the riders to vary their line more, however, it did make it difficult to spot them as they started their descent. 

I was lucky to have one of the best seats in the house to see the action.

Closer view of the actionCloser view of the action













The Bec des RossesThe Bec des Rosses













Once arriving at the Col des Gentiannes the first task was to take my spot with a good view of all the start points, the face, and somewhere within earshot of the commentators, the music and the big screen.

Most though, found whatever vantage point they could to watch the action.

Any vantage point will doAny vantage point will do













Squeezed up tightSqueezed up tight












Vue towards Bec des RossesView towards Bec des Rosses













Without fail when every single rider dropped into the face there was a moments pause, where the noise level dropped a little, whilst everyone tried to locate the riders on the face.

Once the event began time flew by, rider after rider dropped the face with varying lines and outcomes.

Many riders fell but those who made it down did so incredibly well.

Myself, and the rest of the crowd, were awestruck by the heroics taking place on the slope in front.  There were awful moments too when some riders fell.

And then we cheered loudly when they got up unharmed.

There were some really awesome runs, one in particular stood out.

Jeremie Heitz came down the Bec like a tornado. He sped down at 125km/hr. He was incredibe, and you can imagine how loudly we cheered.

And posted about it.

Spectators sharing on social mediaSpectators sharing on social media

















There were moments we could see that the judges had a difficult time deciding what to do, but their deliberation just added to the excitement of the competition.

There was a fabulous party atmosphere on the Col des Gentiannes among the thousands that came to watch through the morning with music, drink and food all laid on.

Swiss delightsSwiss delights













It all flashed by so quickly and the hours of competition seemed to pass in just a few minutes.

For the PlanetSKI news story on the winners with some stunning photographs and videos then see this related story.

The most heart warming story of the day was in the women's snowboard category where the 1998 Olympic half pipe Gold Medallist, Nicola Thost, took the trophy and with an emotional speech on the podium.

She said this was more special to her than the Olympic Gold.

The Xtreme Verbier matters.

With the riding done it was time for the riders to celebrate down in town.

A huge party held in the Medran car park turned out to be the place to be with a mixture of riders, spectators and event organisers all celebrating.

Party on!Party on!













We were celebrating not just this event, but the whole 20 years of the Xtreme Verbier.

Here's to the next 20 years. I will be back.

What a day!What a day!













For the spirit of the mountains

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