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Jamie Rizzuto digs deep to take second in Freeride World Tour
Photos by D. Carlier, J. Dash and S. Lloyd
Jamie Rizzuto of Fernie has taken second overall in men's snowboard at the Swatch Freeride World Tour after the final in Verbier, Switzerland. That's a lot to be proud of especially as an athlete competing without an official coach or complete sponsorship. It spite of his success, Rizzuto is disappointed he did not take the top spot on the podium, knowing a flu greatly effected his final performance at Xtreme Verbier on March 29.
“Unfortunately I was hit hard with a nasty flu,” said Rizzuto. “I missed some key inspection days as I didn’t have the strength to leave my bed. A fellow competitor took my camera up there for me which is how I studied my run. I was in bed for three days which eventually landed me in the Swiss emergency room the day before the event.”
The mythical mountain Bec De Rosse has an intimidating 500 metre north face. To take on such a mission, on the very steep face with a gradient of 45 degrees and 60 degrees at the top is a huge challenge. Despite a new coat of 50-60 cm of fresh snow it was at times affected by the wind, making the conditions variable and tricky.
“On a mountain as mighty and real as the Bec De Rosse you must be there with body and mind,” said Rizzuto. “I feel I was neither. How I made it up the gnarly hike in this condition I will never know. Once at the top I found a little spot in some rocks at the top which was sheltered from the wind. And lay in a ball until my run.”
This year's World Champion snowboarder Emilien Badoux placed fourth at the Xtreme Verbier while Rizzuto was fifth. While taking risks can pay off for some competitors trying to leap ahead to simply place, Rizzuto boarded a clean run. Other competitors with less to lose were launching off only to lose points with something as simple as a bum drag on a landing. All things considered, Rizzuto faired very well.
“This was not me up there on the mountain that day and it showed. I am proud of myself for making it up there under these circumstances but shattered that I was so close to my dream and had to let it slip away. At that point I was scared and really just wanted to make it down safely more than anything. I was not there mentally or physically when it mattered most. I rode down through the finish, then straight back to bed in the hotel. I didn’t even watch any of the event and missed the awards, not what I would of imagined to an otherwise solid season.
“I know it was a great season for me but its going to take a bit for me to let this one soak in. So close yet so far... four points away from the title and I blew it. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do. I feel I was beat physically and mentally before I even hit the snow. And in this game you must be there with both.”
This year's FWT was plagued with low snow conditions in the first three European locations posing challenges for all the athletes yet Rizzuto managed to excel. Rizzuto placed fourth at Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy; second in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France; and fourth again in Kappl, Austria. Rizzuto was finally able stand at the centre of the podium when he took first place in Snowbird, Utah in March.
The fifth leg of the tour in Revelstoke was cancelled due to the high avalanche hazard on Mackenzie Peak in mid March.
This was Rizutto’s second season competing in the FWT and his seventh competition at this level. He was the only Canadian in the competition and has no official sponsor.
For now Rizzuto can't wait to be home to regain his health and he extends his thanks to everyone at home for their kind words and support.
Placing a close second behind World Champion Emilien Badoux of Switzerland in men's snowboard gives Rizzuto entry into the 2015 FWT.
“One thing is for sure,” said Rizzuto. “I am already licking my chops for next season.”
To see the final results and video go to http://www.freerideworldtour.com.