03/12/2010 | by Uli Köhler
Published in Onboard Magazine Issue 117, November 2010
ASK THE EXPERT
Nicolas Marduel – Shaper
This month’s expert is Nicolas ‘Mardu’ Marduel, one of the OG Shapers of European snowparks (such as Les Diablerets, Saas Fee and Les Deux Alpes) and today he’s in charge of shaping the infamous DC AREA 43 in Les Houches. We chased him down to ask him a few questions about the art of shaping snowparks.
How did you start shaping parks? Did being a good rider make things easier?
I started in Flaine in the 94-95 season. After that winter I went on shaping Les Diablerets park during that summer and I haven’t stopped since. I do three seasons per year, which means an average of 1200 hours in a cat. I learned by driving cats, but being a passionate snowboarder helped me evolve quite rapidly. It’s important to be able to judge your work; expectations are big and opinions always varied…
What are the basic tools for a shaper?
I feel I’m more of a builder than a shaper; I spend more time in the machines than with a shovel. So on top of the shovels, what I would use is a pipe dragon, of course, turbines to help us move the snow faster and air it a bit making it better for construction of the big stuff. We use a lot of earth works too, that’s why I think I am more of a builder. Nowadays GPS are used to shape the terrain before the snow falls; most of the resorts use artificial snow and lasers are rapidly being introduced! It used to be a “freestyle” job but it has become very precise; security and shaping skills are crucial!
How have snowparks developed in your opinion?
[The development] has been as incredible as that of freestyle itself, and it has largely contributed to its progression. 15 years ago I built a big air with the amount of snow that today would barely be enough to set a rail… halfpipes have gone from being 2.5-3m wide by 80m long, to 7m wide and 200 long! It has evolved constantly through new machinery and investment. Parks used to be ridden by just a few riders and now they are open to all levels; most resorts couldn’t do without them these days. The terrain and the goal determine what we can or can’t do. Most of the time a good park depends of the skills and dedication of an über-amped bunch of riders/shapers, but more often than not they are quickly discouraged through the resorts’ lack of means (or interest). However, progression is determined by money and halfpipes are very expensive; most of resorts cannot afford them. They’re slowly becoming luxury products!
Which are the best parks in Europe and the best ones you’ve shaped?
We always looked up to the States but in my opinion its a matter of the amount of money invested and we’ve caught up quite decently with resorts like Laax, Les Deux Alpes and Avoriaz, and all the resorts dedicating a bit of passion! My most important works include Les Diablerets Glacier,
Les Deux Alpes, Quik Cups and Candide Invitational.
RETO LAMM, TTR President
To complete this TTR update, we asked the Tour boss Reto Lamm to answer this month’s questions for High 5.
What’s your view on the past TTR season, and more generally on the past contest season?
TTR has again improved its output on pretty much all levels, even if the economic situation across the globe was diffi cult. All events delivered a good product and luckily the season went really smooth. The Olympics were good for snowboarding and actually increased the interest of mainstream media towards our sport, it indirectly brought some momentum towards the TTR.
What’s your view on the FIS talking about including slopestyle at the OG?
Of course it is a difficult topic. Snowboarding has to be governed by snowboarders and not by skiers. TTR has so far done a great job to serve the riders – we will keep on doing our best. TTR is a very progressive model. It is hard for other organisations to deliver what we can. We will protect our interests and our assets. We will stand strong for our sport and keep on delivering a good tour and will crown world champions in Oslo 2012.
So you think discussions between FIS and TTR will be possible one day so that TTR is the unified world title?
There are no plans that support this idea.
What are the main developments concerning next season’s TTR?
We are working hard on our visibility on TV, working out new formats and new ways to display snowboarding in a way that general public understands by preserving all the good sides snowboarding has to offer.
What in your opinion is the best way to designate a tour champion?
Number of events etc… It is a delicate balance to make riders happy. Riders need enough freedom so they can spend time shooting and other projects. We talk to riders and take their input on how many results are best for them and for the tour. Of course it’s always a compromise in the end.
TTR RESHAPES JUDGING
Many of this year’s TTR contests will utilise a new type of judging system – and already have like at the Open in New Zealand. The Snowboarding Live Scoring System™ was introduced at the last Oakley Arctic Challenge slopestyle. Based on the overall feedback from riders before and after the event, spectators and television viewers, the general consensus is the system will be a major leap forward for the sport. As a result, major events on the Swatch TTR World Tour have agreed to work together to implement the system for all halfpipe, slopestyle and big air competitions for this coming season. Leading the development of this new judging system are experienced head judges Dani Kiwi Meier and Greg Johnson who have both been involved with snowboard judging systems for over 15 years. Meier and Johnson have been working with top riders on the new judging system, especially Torstein Horgmo, Andreas Ygre Wiig and Terje Haakonsen, who have been key players in its overall development.
In comparison to the current system in use, called Overall Impression (focuses on a rider’s run in its entirety), the new Live Scoring System is more transparent and allows everyone to clearly see how judges give points by scoring each trick individually in a rider’s run. Each trick score is added up to generate a total trick score that is then combined with a total flow score (how well a rider links all tricks in the run) to make up the final score for a rider’s run. With this new system TTR hopes to improve the presentation and understanding of competitive freestyle snowboarding as a whole. The first contests in South Hemisphere shown already the improvements in the judging, and the Tour could be more interesting this year than ever before!
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Queralt Castellet got her redemption after her Olympic KO (she was in 3rd till she sparked herself out) by placing 2nd at the Burton NZ Open halfpipe last August, behind Kelly Clark. Queralt was joined in Wanaka by a good bunch of Spaniards who’d cruised down for the NZ Winter: Rubén and Isaac Vergès, Kike Carcelen, Turny, Nina Manich and Adan Baserba, amongst others. In the same hemisphere but the other side of the pond, Marc Sala and Dani Sastre spent their summer in Bariloche and other Argentinean resorts filming for BQP, the Argentinean filming crew.
Dragon eyewear has recruited the talents of German IsenSeven regular Tobias Strauss. “I am stoked on the Image of Dragon and the Products and happy to represent this Company in the Future!” was what Tobi had to say. Silvia Mittermüller is now protecting herself with TSG gear. And the German lady’s already found herself designing and developing new ideas for next year’s TSG products alongside their R&D team. Silvia chose the Lotus women’s snowboard helmet, the Big Bear kneeguard and Backbone Trooper back protector to protect her on the mountain.
We didn’t know that Marley was actually a brand, but Burton did and teamed up with Marley & Co to create an all-new, limited edition snowboard: the Whammy Bar Marley. The board is part of Burton’s Restricted collection, a special assortment of outerwear and hardgoods that can only be found in selected shops. Burton’s Whammy Bar Marley is an all-new snowboard for the 2010/2011 season that has a smooth, catchfree feel for plenty of fun times all over the mountain. The Whammy Bar Marley is available in four sizes and retails for $399.95.
Planet Sports launched their hardgoods-only store next door to their existing flagship store in Munich’s city center. It hosts one the biggest selections of snowboards in Southern Germany. An 11-year-old kid going by the name of Marcus Kleveland has signed onto the Volcom Euro team. We don’t have pictures of the kid yet, but we bet we’ll have some bangers soon – the info itself was big enough to put this in writing. Bet he’s doing doubles already, the bastard! After five years of absence the legendary “Boarders” shop made a return to Munich on October 1st. Back in the day it was the premier hangout for skate, surf, and snow addicts and looks set out to become it once more. More information under www.boarders-muenchen.de
O’Neill and Philips have teamed up to offer their riders and the rest of the world a series of high end headphones, giving you longlasting durability and complete comfort so you can enjoy the music that fuels you every day, no matter what you put them through. The first collection is available this Autumn worldwide and features four different styles, each completely unique and simple in design, yet able to add tunes you in your everyday shredding habits. www.oneill.com/TestedOnAnimals
PIRATES & ABSINTHE PREMIERE CARNAGE
It was a heavy few days and required more than a little liver-juggling, but the Onboard crew managed to hit up both the Pirates world premiere for Hooked in Innsbruck and Absinthe’s premiere of NowHere in Munich – all Absinthe shots above are from the world premiere in Zurich. Divide and conquer. Though memories are blurred, the camera never lies so here’s some snapshots of the mayhem.