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The world's unofficial capital of freeriding Chamonix Mont-Blanc is set to host the opening event of the Freeride World Tour (FWT) this weekend.

Now in its fourth season, the FWT is bigger than ever for 2011 with two extra stops added to the programme. The first stop this year will be Chamonix Mont-Blanc where unrivalled steeps, tree lines and powder provide the perfect conditions for freeriders.

The freeriding elite will gather at the French resort to tackle the spectacular 'Pentes de l'Hôtel' face at the Brévent ski area. Many of last year's champions will return to defend their titles including French skier Candide Thovex, German snowboarder Aline Bock and Xavier de Le Rue the French snowboarder.

Other big name riders include Swedish skier Henrik Windstedt, local and former ski world champion Aurelien Ducroz and the indomitable JT Holmes of the USA.

French freeskiing phenomenon Thovex says his objective for 2011 is to defend his title but also to just enjoy the ride. 'I'll be under a lot of pressure but more than anything else I'll be competing on the Freeride World Tour because it's something I really enjoy and that's how I improve.'

For spectators there's a whole host of events over the course of the weekend including a contest village, street fair, prize-giving ceremonies, freeride film nights, rider autograph sessions, 'freeride with a pro' events and of course the official FWT party.

The 2011 men's FWT has expanded from four to six stops with events in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France; Swiss resort Engadin St Moritz; Kirkwood in the USA; Sochi, Russia; Austrian resort Fieberbrunn; and Verbier in Switzerland. The women's tour also has a new schedule for 2011 that includes six main stops in La Clusaz and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France; Hochfugen in Austria; Kirkwood and Taos in the USA; and Swiss resorts Nendaz and Verbier.

Also at Chamonix this weekend is the first of three junior freeride competitions due to take place this year. Young riders aged between 12 and 17 will compete in the Freeride Juniors de Chamonix Mont-Blanc.
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