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Pavillard-Cain takes third in Alaska despite weather delays

Finishes Freeride World Tour in fifth place overall

Homegrown big mountain freeskier Francesca Pavillard-Cain wrapped up her second year on the Freeride World Tour with a third place in Haines, Alaska and an eighth place in the final event at Verbier, Switzerland last week.

It was a crazy final week of competition as weather delays kept the Alaska event on hold, and then once completed, athletes headed to Verbier the next day in time to get a day of inspection and then jump back on their skis on Saturday, March 28.
With her effort, Pavillard-Cain finished the tour in fifth place overall and is qualified for the 2016 Freeride World Tour. She took time between Haines and Verbier to answer some questions via email.

How was the lead-up to Alaska? Were you able to get some skiing in prior to heading there?
It was my first time in Haines, Alas. That town is beautiful and so remote, you forget about the outside world! The day after I arrived was my first day ever of heli-skiing. It was an amazing day, we got some great runs in. Unfortunately our day was cut a little short after an avalanche buried one of the guides who was looking at the conditions on a potential venue. Luckily everything was all right but it was a good reminder of the constant vigilance that is necessary in the backcountry. Since there were so many delays it meant more days of heli-skiing as well as some great ski touring just over the border in Canada.

I realize there were a lot of weather holds. Were you able to ski while waiting for the comp?
It was frustrating to have the competition delayed and canceled so many times but it meant not only days of great skiing but time for other adventures. I got to know Haines very well. I went on hikes, visited the nature preserve, went canoeing with the locals, and so much more!

Was it hard to stay focused with all of the delays?
Yes. Having the competition go on and off so many days was stressful and draining. After the first day I had a hard time getting my head in the right place. We kept going through the motions and my confidence that the event was going to happen was so low that I couldn’t find my focus or energy, which was very frustrating. However, Monday was the perfect day. Once we got to mile 33 (where the heli leaves) I knew it was a go and was able to get the concentration back.

Was that your first time ever skiing in Alaska? What did you think of it?
Yes, this trip was my first heli adventure. It was amazing. I had such a good time I am worried my standard is too high now! But hopefully there is just more awesomeness to come.

Conditions looked incredible, how were they actually?
Conditions were fun but variable. Since we went last (again) we not only had to deal with slough and hard snow (from previous slides) but also tracks from earlier skiers and riders. And then there was the shade. In Alaska, when there is shade on a venue it’s like skiing in super flat light. However, to compete in Alaska was such an amazing experience and there is no doubt that that there were some fun turns made.

How was the venue? Steep? Easy or tough to read and figure out a line?

I loved the venue. There were so many options. It was steep at the top and contained everything—massive cliffs, spines, chutes, and nice pow!

What was the plan for your run? Push it and go for broke, play it safe, a mix of both?
Going into Alaska my plan was a weird mixture of going for it and playing it safe. I really wanted to make it to Verbier but I also wanted to get my points up! In the end I played it more on the safe side so that I could make finals, but again it was a mix.

Are you happy with your run? Did it play out as hoped?
Yes, I am happy with my run. There were some modifications made once I was in my run and realized how variable the snow was. After my first drop it struck me that I wanted to finish the run and that with the changing snow I should make my double into a single, which I did. I also skipped my middle air and enjoyed some powder until I got to my last drop on the bottom spine. I was happy with my placement and understood the judging and it was just what I needed. Enough to get me on the podium and safe enough to secure my spot for Verbier.

What’s next?
Right now I am in Verbier, Switzerland. It was an insane turnaround. We all left the day after the competition and made our way here to Switzerland. Our inspection day is Friday the 27th and competition looks like a go for Saturday. After so much time waiting we might have two competitions in two different countries half way across the world in one week! Crazy!

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