No one deserved it more as Backstrom crushed lines when it counted and he trained harder than anyone to make this dream come true.
“Very few people in the world ride big mountain lines the way Ralph does,” said Jeremy Jones. “It’s no surprise he took the Freeride World Tour crown this year. It’s an epic accomplishment and we can’t wait to celebrate back home with him.”
Teton Gravity Research caught up with Backstrom for an interview after the win. Here’s what he had to say about his line choice at Verbier:
TGR: You dropped first and wound up staying on top. Tell me about your line choice. Also tell us how nerve-wracking it was to be in the hot seat for the entire competition.
RB: I knew I was going to be dropping first 2-3 days before the comp; just had a really strong feeling. The only thing was that I thought the skiers were going to be going first. When we heard that the snowboarders were going to go first, I knew I still had the 1st bib. It can be a bit nerve wracking going first, but most riders in AK prefer to go first, right? I had been in Verbier for 5 days or so before the comp and had picked a line out. After 2 bad line choices/falls in the prior comps, I picked the first line that spoke to me when I saw the face. Then, the night before the comp, I kept having these micro dreams/thoughts that parts of my line were too tight for the amount of slough that would be moving, and kept having trouble visualizing individual turns. So I woke up super tired, and the fog didn’t help me feel any more awake. I definitely wasn’t in a state to ride a technical line. I changed my line minutes before I left the judges tent to start hiking to something less technical and less exposed. It wasn’t until I saw my score that I knew how good my run was. I had flown passed some features I’d planned to hit, so thought I’d be easy to beat. I definitely dodged some bullets sitting there at the bottom watching the others come down!
TGR: What was going through your head when you dropped into the Bec?
RB: I was so rushed before we dropped I didn’t have time to think at all. A couple riders and myself were talking to Nicolas Hale-Woods on speaker phone about contingency plans if the fog didn’t clear. It cleared right then, and he said, “forerunner in 2 minutes!” After he dropped, the starter said, “Ralph Backstrom 2 minutes! No, 1 minute!” I even forgot to put on my backpack up there.
Check out TetonGravity.com for the full interview with Backstrom.
Here’s Backstrom’s winning run down the Bec des Rosses: