What’s so mythical about ”The Bec”?
01:04 22-03-2013 by FWT
This story was originally published exactly one year ago, but Bec des Rosses doesn't change.
The Bec des Rosses is freeriding’s most reputed face. There are two reasons for all the emotions it brings out to both riders and public; first, the Xtreme Verbier has been around for 17 consecutive years (!) and secondly, the face is like no other. Riders dream (or have night mares..) of riding this face all season. Rigorous preparation is key to success. From the start gate the athletes look down at a 500-metre north face completely peppered with rocks of all sizes and a steepness of 40 to almost 60 degrees. It is a very technical face to ride and the route finding is truly complicated. At this level of steepness, with so many rocks around, it is not hard to get lost in there. Even for the very best.
For both spectators and riders one of the Bec’s biggest assets is its variation. There are numerous line possibilities and the face looks very different from year to year, depending on the snow pack.
It is a tough mental game even for the most experienced riders, who scrupulously prepare for their run days in advance. Many consider the hour-long hike up as a good meditation and warm up before attacking the face.
The “Bec” is definitely a pure big mountain face but some years with the right snow conditions and the right stamina from some of the riders, we have witnessed some bold freestyle moves. The snowboarders have taken the lead on performing sweet tricks on this daring face. Both Belgian Axel Pauporte and Swiss Alex Coudray have impressed with a 360 frontside on one of the biggest and most exposed cliffs of the face, the “Gilles Voirol” cliff. No skier has yet pulled off a trick from that same cliff. When Cyril Néri won the snowboarders category in 2006, he stomped a sweet 360 right below the summit in a really aesthetic run. This experienced Xtreme rider has also stomped numerous backflips throughout the years.
This photo shows the variety of lines you can do on the Bec. There is plenty of stuff for everyone!
In 2007, French veteran freeride skier, Seb Michaud, did the biggest back flip in the event’s history, he was at least 25 meters high in the air and flew just as far.
Even if the Xtreme has been around for 17 years there are still new lines that have been opened the latest years. In 2010, three time World Champion and four time winner of the Xtreme, Xavier de Le Rue, totally astounded the other athletes and the public with a breath taking new line at one of the most exposed areas of the face and with a speed faster than a Porsche!
Xavier de Le Rue is back as a wild card this year.
“To compete in Verbier really makes sense to me. Its face really gives me the possibility to express myself so I'm really happy to be a part of it. It's hard to describe, what is so special about riding this face but I think a combination of different elements like its steepness constantly decreasing gradually from 55 till 40 degrees, its numerous options that change every year depending on the snow pack, its location and angle compared to the spectators that gives a crazy impression...”
Xavier reveals the important mind game the days and hours before competing there:
“That face for a contest requires a lot of focus, so I guess the few days and hours before, most of the brain is focused into this one run. Basically most of the work happens during that period.”
Defending World Champion, Aurélien Ducroz, has won the Xtreme three times and competed in all nine editions (since the skiers joined the snowboarders in 2004). For him it is the highlight of the season:
“I have been on the Tour for five years. I basically do it to finish off with the Xtreme on the Bec des Rosses! Why it’s so special? Well, first it’s the triangular shape of the face, opening up numerous options and line choices. It is the steepest face, the longest and the most technical. You can be original. It can be dangerous up there, which means a true challenge for us athletes. If you arrive at the finish line and have accomplished your line, it is such an enormous feeling. All the season’s tension releases. It is a big moment!”