Truckee riders miss podium at Freeride World Tour opener
Fresh snow and deep powder greeted riders and skiers in Hakuba, Japan last weekend as the opening round of the Freeride World Tour got under way.
Three-time defending world champion Sammy Luebke, of Truckee, highlighted the field of riders, which also included two other local athletes.
Luebke would put together a solid run down the upper part of the venue, but had his day spoiled by a pair of crashes near the bottom of the mountain, resulting in a seventh-place finish.
“I ended up hitting something hard underneath the snow which sent me over the bars mid turn,” Luebke posted to his Instagram page following the race.
“Either way (I) couldn’t of asked for better conditions and weather. What an amazing event, with some of the best riding I’ve seen in both snowboard and ski categories!”
Luebke’s run included a massive air over the first feature, and a frontside 360 spin off another natural hit, before a crash took him out of first-place contention. Luebke, 29, finished with 1,290 points for his run. Fellow American, Travis Rice, won the season-opening event with 2,500 points.
Truckee rider and last year’s winner at Hakuba, Jonathan Penfield, finished his day just off the podium in fourth place. Penfield put together a solid run with a pair of 360s, but washed out on one landing, finishing his day with 1,800 points.
Also out of Truckee, Christopher Galvin, 31, returned to the world tour this season after competing on the North American tour in 2018. Galvin would suffer a crash midway down his run, and finished in 10th place with 840 points.
In skiing, Jaclyn Paaso, who competed out of Squaw as a youngster, finished in seventh in the women’s division with 1,290 points. Hazel Birnbaum, of Kirkwood, took fifth place with 1,625 points. Italian skier Arianna Tricomi won the event with 2,500 points.
The Freeride World Tour will next head to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, British Columbia, on Feb 2-8, for the second round of competition.
To view full results and watch video of locals’ runs from last weekend’s competition in Japan, visit freerideworldtour.com/event/freeride-world-tour-hakuba-japan-2019/.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.