Jamie Rizzuto boarding big at the Free Ride World Tour
Jamie Rizzuto of Fernie is now second in the over all men's snowboarding standings in the Swatch Free Ride World Tour (SFRWT) after his performance in France on January 24.
It had been one hurdle after another in Europe for Rizzuto. Poor snow conditions are a challenge as is less support from the tour itself this year, as organizers seem to emphasis that athlete's sponsors should pay for hotels, meals and transport.
“That's great if you're a European with a lot of sponsor money. Not very good if your a Canadian just trying to make his way in a foreign land on his own dime. I am not complaining as I am grateful to be were I am.”
Paul Attala is Rizzuto's chiropractor in Fernie. Attala has helped with fitness training, placing special emphasis on strength and balance and focus in distressing situations.
“It's important to understand the European's are well funded and supported with coaches and many sponsors,” said Attala.
While most of Rizzuto’s fellow competitors are training in summer on snow in Chile or New Zealand, he works construction for eight months in the off season to fund his participation on the world tour. He has no official coach or sponsor but despite these hurdles, at this point in the tour he is ranked second in the world.
Attala believes Rizzuto is doing so well this year because he is better than everyone else in poor conditions and the Alps are in poor condition this year.
“They are riding a very shallow snow pack with ice and wind blown snow,” said Attala. “Jamie makes these poor conditions look easy and he has been very smooth and fast, as if he is riding 40 cm of perfect powder. His competitors have not been able to match his speed and fluid style.
“Some riders have landed some big drops and done freestyle type airs to place them ahead of Jamie on a single competition basis. This approach requires a high percentage of luck and, thus far, most have not been able to complete their runs without a fall in one of the two venues. Interestingly, many of the top ranked athletes from last year have had significant falls in both competitions. This is very good for Jamie as they have a lot of pressure to win the next events to get back on top and with the poor snow this is unlikely.
“Jamie can also complete big drops and flips as good as most but his experience and big mountain maturity has paid off with self control and good judgement. He has stayed focused on the overall title and not the highlight reel.”
“Paul has been a blessing in my life,” said Rizzuto. “He was there for me at a time when I really needed him and for that I am extremely grateful. Together, with his knowledge and my work ethic, we are making things happen!”
Despite extra obstacles this year, Rizzuto feels he's on track where he wants to be.
He says its important not to get ahead of himself as he has big goals and intends to make them a reality.
“It is hard as most people have no idea what it takes to compete at this level,” said Rizzuto “The sacrifices that must be made and ability to believe in yourself no matter what. I have always known in my heart that this is were I belong. And am super happy to be where I am. But make no mistake, the best is yet too come. I am driven and 'no' is not an answer in my vocabulary these days.”
“For everyone who has supported me, thank you. Fernie Alpine Resort gives me a pass.
I also get one or two snowboards a year from Lib Tech. I usually need four [boards] per year, as these competitions are not friendly on equipment especially with the low snow year here in Europe.
“Paul helps me out with chiro and my father Garth Rizzuto has been my main support this year. Without him I would not be on this tour this year, period.
“This hasn’t been the glorified picnic that many people think I am on. It has been a real life journey full with blood, sweat, and tears. Plane tickets, trains, hotels, hostels, and food; Europe is not cheap.
"I make new friends and seem to have positive energy when it comes to rides and couches to crash on. I have always extended myself to out of town friends while at home. I feel karma has come back to me in my travels in Europe, with the exception of a few rough nights sleeping in a ditch at the train station or waking up getting screamed at on a park bench in a language I did not understand.
"Honestly its all part of the experience and I think it really makes me more grateful for the journey I am on. I am a true believer that nothing good will come without a lot of hard work. If you truly believe in yourself more than anything else, you have the ability to do anything.
“With four stops left I am sitting in a good position for the overall which has always been my focus. I am just keeping a level head over here focussing on one competition at a time.”
With the first two competitions behind him (Jan. 22-Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy; Jan. 24 in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France ) Rizzuto is now in Austria for the third leg of the world tour. The tour leaves Europe and comes to North America landing in Kirkwood, California, USA on March 1. The SFRWT will be coming to Canada when Revelstoke hosts the fifth competition on March 10. The final event will be in Verbier, Switzerland on March 22.
This is Rizutto’s second season on the Free Ride World Tour and his seventh competition at this level.
To watch Rizutto and other competitors in action, visit http://www.freerideworldtour.com.