Originally Posted by MAGGOT
No, it isn't true. Deaths are very rare in these comps. I can't even remember when the last one was.
Originally Posted by epic
Um. Switzerland. Last year.
Perhaps- The IFSA World Freeride Champs, Tignes France. Valiton. April 11, 2007. RIP
I've never met either Valiton or Nicoletta, but I almost feel like I knew them because I spent so much time with others in that culture.
I stopped competing BM events in '02. I spent 4 years chasing dreams of winning the World's. I never actually got to compete in The World Champs, but I did compete in several world-tour events. I also know that I gave it my all.
Strangely enough, I was always most scared in the local/non-world events. It always seemed that to win, you had to throw down something ridiculous. And you do, there are hundreds of confident rippers who are out to beat you. It seemed that the inviation-only events were much more relaxed about line choices and also offered much more support from other riders regarding inspections, etc. The pressure of a world/invitation-only event was drastically less than the pressure of other local events that allowed anyone to enter and simply qualify.
I stepped away once I developed the fear. You just can't ski at that level once you inherit a drop of fear-derived hesitation. My fear came from shoulder dislocations. Every time I fell, I blew a shoulder and was unable to self-arrest my tumble. Once I got a fear of falling, my competitive career ended. Pretty much instantaneously.
Two years in a row. Two deaths in the World's. I have friends who hold titles. I have friends who are really struggling hard to keep their confidence up. I have friends who compete, but not to win. They do so, perhaps, to keep the spirit alive. To keep chasing dreams and to never fall victim to the fear of pursuing those dreams. I applaud them, they inspire me, and I follow their inspirations through my other walks of life and my other dreams.
Big Mountain/Freeskiing events aren't new. What these guys are doing in events is not new. The last two years are shocking, sobering, and feel relentless. But it's not new. I just hope that the athletes can remain faithful, honest with themselves, and confident as well as understanding.
If anything changes on the tour, I predict it will be a further advancement of the athletes supporting each other in their pursuits and a further decrease in competitiveness amongst those athletes. I don't predict that we will see less of those athletes next year due to an affliction of the fear.
RIP, John. We never met, but I know you were chasing your dreams. It's a prerequisite to enter the World's.