Canada's Dufour-Lapointe, Anderson crowned 2023 freeride world champions
Canadian women sat atop ski, snowboard standings after final tour event cancelled
Two Canadian women were crowned 2023 Freeride World Tour champions after the fifth and final event of the season in Verbier, Switzerland, was cancelled on Tuesday due to hazardous weather conditions on the Bec des Rosses mountain course.
Katie Anderson, of Jaffray, B.C., took gold by virtue of finishing in top spot in the women's snowboard standings across the first four events of the season, while Montreal's Justine Dufour-Lapointe did the same in the women's ski category.
Anderson, 27, had already won three of four events coming in, topping the podium at the Baqueira Beret Pro in Spain in January, the Ordino Arcalís Pro in Andorra in February, and the Fieberbrunn Pro in Austria earlier this month.
The sizeable gap she had over Anna Orlova of Russia and Estelle Rizzolio of France — the silver and bronze medallists respectively — was enough to have already clinched top spot after her third win, but it didn't alter her competitive spirit with the announcement of the cancellation.
"A little bit bittersweet today," Anderson said. "I wish we could've gone ahead but the mountain had other plans. I am really proud of everyone who rode this year, and I am super happy and excited to win the title — last year I never thought I would be standing here."
Dufour-Lapointe finds immediate success
While Anderson's ascent was more linear, Dufour-Lapointe's rise to the top of the freeride discipline came just a year after making the switch from a decorated career in moguls.
Dufour-Lapointe, 28, won gold for Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, and a silver medal in PyeongChang in 2018 before finishing 20th last year in Beijing after crashing out. She was also FIS moguls world champion in 2015, adding two more bronze medals in 2013 and 2017.
But in this treacherous new discipline, it took her just two events to find the top of the podium when she did so in Andorra in February, launching yet another successful athletic foray.
"I have been working so hard the last few months, but now I am feeling so proud of all the hard work and self-belief," Dufour-Lapointe said. "To finish the season with this title means the world to me.
"This was my dream coming into freeride, but I never thought it would be possible this fast. I am so happy I made the switch to freeriding, and I am excited for what's next — this is just the beginning."
McNeill took fifth this season, while American Molly Armanino and France's Megane Betend placed on the podium with a silver and bronze medal respectively.
Marcus Goguen, 18, rounded out the Canadian results by placing ninth in the men's ski standings, with the highlight of his season being a silver-medal performance on home soil at the Kicking Horse Golden BC Pro in February.
Valentin Rainer of Austria topped the men's ski standings, while Ludovic Guillot-Diat of France won gold in the men's snowboard category.