Avalancha en el Volcan celebrates ten years with a new record

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Photo: Jean Louis de HeeckerenPhoto: Jean Louis de Heeckeren 

By Paula Fernandez
"Avalancha en el Volcan," perhaps Chile’s most spectacular freeride ski and snowboard race, celebrated its 10th version of the event on the active Villarrica volcano this past weekend. 
Located near Pucon in the southern Araucanía region, the Villarrica volcano is where this event was born and has been its home on 8 of the 10 times the competition has been held. After a generous winter, in which ample centimeters of snow fell, the volcano was dressed to the max in white to welcome the more than 60 skiers and snowboarders who participated.

Perfect conditions
On Saturday morning, September 10, around 7 a.m., the competitors together with the organization's guides climbed on foot or by ski to the summit of the smoking Villarrica volcano. Their ascent began illuminated by a full moon, then transformed into a spectacular beautiful Araucanía region sunrise. It took them 7 hours to reach the summit in what felt more like a moutain community gathering than competition, said local climber and mountain guide, Andrés Bozzolo, one of the organizers and founders of the event, who describes Avalancha en el Volcan (Avalance on the Volcano) as a “traditional event of Pucon."
The wide crater of the volcano, 250 meters in diameter, was the perfect setting to get enough air and start the fast descent, where the winner is the one who achieves the best time to the base of the mountain, a real race in natural conditions, without any previous preparation of the ski slopes, the snow and weather conditions must be confronted as they are. 
On this occasion, the race took place on a day with perfect conditions. “The day was incredible,” said Bozzolo. “We had some wind, which made the snow soften, perhaps too much, but then the afternoon winds came with the kind of conditions we were hoping for, and we were able to get down without problems from the summit. An absolutely pefect day."
Photo: Jean Louis de Heeckeren Photo: Jean Louis de Heeckeren
The winners
The competitors came from all over the world, which was reflected in the winners in the "master category” in which Rodrigo Amadeo (Argentina) took first place, followed closely by Iván Echeverría (Chile) and Manuel Genswein (Switzerland). 
In the men's snowboarding category, the winners, in order, were Federico Mekis, Lucas Llanquinao and Jeremy Hatcher. In the women's snowboard category, Chile’s Francisca Navarro won first place, followed by Ignacia Valdés and Josefina Avilés.
As for skiing, in the women's category, a Pucon resident, Florencia Jiménez, won first place, followed by Pascale Steeger (Chile) and Julieta del Castillo (Argentina). 
New record
In the men’s skiing competititon, a new record was set. In 2016, Frenchman Dimitri Lataste took 2:28 seconds to descend from the summit to the base. This year, the top three finishers in men’s skiing all broke that mark. Third place went to Argentina's Niki Salencon, who clocked in at 2:26 minutes. Benjamin Carvallo of Chile finished second, descending in 2:20 minutes, while Chile's Samuel Jeannin blew by everyone to set a new record of 2:08 minutes. 
“Everything was very beautiful,” commented champion snowboarder Francisca Navarro. “This event came from the soul of the people. It was a day with a full moon, sun, heat, it had just snowed, everything very solid.” 
“The event was very impressive,” agreed fellow snowboarder Josefina Aviles. “The day started very early, with the full moon and the sunrise. It was a long climb, we had a lot of sun. The team was very united all the time, giving each other support, accompanying and waiting for each other." Regarding the snow, Aviles said that she encountered difficult icy conditions in the first part. “It was very difficult to turn. I fell a couple of times. But then there was a bowl, and I jumped in. I did the best I could.”
An event marked by so much scenic beauty and great companionship among all the competitors, it ended with an awards ceremony at the foot of the volcano, together with the warmth of a bonfire and plenty of barbecue for everyone to recover their energy.
As well, in alliance with the company Pock, all the waste generated during the awards ceremony and throughout the event will be turned into furniture, with only about half a bag of garbage that could not be recycled. A real achievement, beyond the race and the days in the mountains that united the entire community around the magnificent Villarrica volcano.

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