Francesca “Ace” Pavillard-Cain and Mary Boddington
A couple of local women are taking their talents to the big show in competitive big mountain freeriding. Skier Francesca “Ace” Pavillard-Cain and snowboarder Mary Boddington are headed overseas for the 2015 Freeride World Tour (FWT) starting in January. It will be Pavillard-Cain’s second tour of the exclusive competition series and Boddington’s first.
Pavillard-Cain qualified for the 2013 series after finishing first in two regions of the 2012 Freeride Qualifier Tour. She opened the 2013 FWT in Chamonix, France and admits it was a bit unnerving at that first event.
“I know I felt out of my element,” says Pavillard-Cain.
The nerves got the best of her as she crashed in her first FWT event in spectacular fashion.
“It was a pretty big tomahawk,” says Pavillard-Cain. “If you’re going to go out, you might as well go out big. It was a disappointment but falling happens.”
Rather than call it quits, Pavillard-Cain stepped right back into the starting gate in the next event in Austria and stomped her way to a second-place finish.
“Going in I had nothing to lose and I realized that I’m not out of my element,” says Pavillard-Cain. “I was feeling pretty good after Austria.”
She hit another hiccup when she returned stateside and jumped into a qualifier event in Crested Butte, only to crash hard and suffer a fairly severe injury.
“I did the qualifier in Crested Butte just for fun but I was jet lagged and I hurt myself pretty bad,” says Pavillard-Cain. “It was a lapse in judgment for sure.”
Pavillard-Cain jumped back into the FWT mix at the event in Snowbird and while she fell again, she was not totally disappointed.
“It was just really good to compete because I needed to stay on the tour,” says Pavillard-Cain.
The 2013-2014 season ended on a high note for Pavillard-Cain as she headed up to Montana in April for one more competition on the qualifier tour. While her intent was personal, the outcome was better than hoped and she ended up winning.
“That event was to just land some runs and feel good about competing again,” explains Pavillard-Cain. “It made a big difference.”
So much so that it provided some insight for the upcoming season of competing again on the FWT this winter.
“I’m not looking at what anyone else is doing,” says Pavillard-Cain. “This year is a lot less about results and a lot more about skiing for myself. And if I do that, the results will come.”
Boddington punched her ticket to the FWT after dominating the Freeride World Qualifier tour last season. Boddington placed first at events in Crested Butte and Telluride and fifth in Big Sky, Mont. to finish the series on top and earn the one spot available on the 2015 world tour.
“They’re the same comps I’ve been doing for a while and they’re a lot of fun to be a part of,” says Boddington. “Going into it I didn’t imagine I would make it on the world tour.”
It’s unchartered territory for Boddington in Europe, having never ridden there ever, but she and Pavillard-Cain are going a week before the first competition in Chamonix, France.
“I’m pretty excited,” says Boddington. “We’re heading over a week early so we can get our legs under us. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Although, Boddington’s not a total babe in the woods, as she has been a very successful competitor in North America and has some history with the current reigning freeride world tour champion Shannon Yates.
“I’ve even beat her a couple of times so I’ll keep that in mind,” says Boddington. “But the other women on the tour from Europe are as equally bad-ass.”
The two women have been riding together a lot in preparation for the upcoming tour and keeping the focus on fun and personal fulfillment.
“More than anything, there’s not one recipe for preparing for the tour,” says Pavillard-Cain. “There’s not a formula. It just seems pretty natural. The reason we do what we do is because it’s so much fun. Some days we ski moguls, some days we’ll ski groomers and some days we will go out and hit cliffs or cat tracks. I think we’re on the same page.”
“I’m just trying to go out every day and maintain a basic line of health,” adds Boddington. “It helps keep my mind and body in mode. I’m not into the gym thing—that just stresses me out.”
The series will start in Chamonix, France on January 24 before heading to Austria on January 31, then to Andorra on February 14. Following that the athlete field will be cut down. Pavillard-Cain must be in the top seven and Boddington in the top five if they want to qualify for the next event in Haines, Alaska on March 14.
“I’m hoping to just make it to Alaska,” says Boddington.
“I definitely want to make it to Alaska and I definitely want to podium on this tour,” says Pavillard-Cain. “I think I can and I think a lot of the girls on the tour can do that. That’s what makes it exciting. I’m really impressed by the girls on the tour in both snowboarding and skiing.”
Following the Alaska event, the field will be cut again for the final event of the season, Xtreme Verbier in Verbier, Switzerland on March 28. The final is a highly anticipated competition as it marks the 20th anniversary of Xtreme Verbier.