Sammy Luebke puts exclamation point on Freeride World Tour title
With his Swatch Freeride World Tour title already secured, Squaw Valley snowboarder Sammy Luebke went ahead and threw down a monstrous winning run anyway on the final stop in Verbier, Switzerland.
Luebke’s victory — his third in five events — cemented his title by nearly 2,500 points over runner-up Flo Orley of Austria.
He was joined by a handful of other Tahoe athletes at the top of the leaderboard.
Truckee native Jonathan Penfield, who currently rides out of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, finished third in the men’s snowboard standings and was followed by Squaw Valley’s Chris Galvin in fourth and Ralph Backstrom in sixth. Squaw’s Jackie Paaso, meanwhile, topped the women’s ski field in Verbier to earn second place in the overall standings.
Saturday’s series finale, the Extreme Verbier, was not for the faint of heart. The competition took place in windy, low-light conditions on the steep and unforgiving northeast face of the fabled Bec des Rosses towering above Verbier.
Luebke, who clinched his title with a win on the previous stop in Haines, Alaska, went big from the start. The Truckee resident pointed his board off a large cliff feature near the top of the venue and stomped the landing. He finished his run with two more cleanly landed cliff drops and a smooth ride to the finish, which earned him a high score of 85.0.
Donning a gorilla suit, the 40-year-old Orley held nothing back en route to a second-place score of 83.0. Accomplished big-mountain snowboarder Xavier De Le Rue of France, who entered as a wildcard, rounded out the podium with a 75.0.
Galvin placed fourth and Penfield was seventh. Backstrom did not compete in the final event.
Paaso, who is known for her hard charging, competitiveness and big airs, linked together a fast, solid run for a winning score of 84.33 in the women’s ski division. She was followed by Austrian Eva Walkner, who received a 75.0 to take the season title with a collective score of 9,400 points. Paaso was second in the standings with 8,255 points.
The men’s ski competition was canceled due to increasingly low visibility and high winds. As such, results from the previous stops were used to determine the overall title, which went to Frenchman Lioc Collomb-Patton. Drew Tabke was the top American in 12th.
Estelle Balet of Switzerland won the women’s snowboard title.
Find complete results and highlights from all the Swatch Freeride World Tour stops at http://www.freerideworldtour.com.