The Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro 2007 is bang on target for its scheduled launch date, with recent fresh snowfalls over the European Alps ensuring the best snow conditions of the year for what will be the inaugural edition of this new and innovative freeride contest.
16 of the world’s best snowboarders and skiers are currently making their way to the Swiss ski resort of Laax, where the Take-off Party will kick off the event in style on 1st March 2007. The confirmed competitor start list for the snowboarders includes the likes of 5-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year Jeremy Jones, Austrian Mitch Toelderer and freestyle killers Stefan Gimpl, Jules Reymond and Jonas Emery. Legendary US freerider Steve Klassen will hope his vast experience makes the difference, while Xavier de la Rue and Cyril Neri are widely considered solid outside bets.
The starting list for the skiers, meanwhile, sees Sweden’s Kaj Zackrisson and Sverre Liliequist competing against the likes of Switzerland’s Phil Meier and Loris Falquet. Unfortunately, Canada’s Hugo Harrisson is unable to compete due to injury, and has been replaced by US freeskier Cody Townsend. Outnumbered 7 to 1 by the European contingent, Townsend will be hoping to take the title back across the Atlantic come the end of the week. However, France’s Thomas Diet and Switzerland’s Evariste Berney will be standing firmly in his way.
By adopting an innovative mobile contest format, the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro 2007 promises to give these exceptional riders and skiers the very best snow conditions and terrain on which to showcase their talent. The pre-existing snow pack and recent fresh dumps have encouraged organizers to consider the Western Swiss Alps as a very strong potential arena for the opening days of the contest window. Other contenders include Austria’s Arlberg region, the Swiss areas of Grand St Bernhard (Verbier) and Graubünden (St Moritz/Davos), as well as Chamonix – widely recognized as the spiritual home of freeriding. The final decision will be made (on Day 2) during the event.
Nicolas Hale-Woods, event organizer, is eagerly looking forward to seeing what these world-class athletes are capable of. He said: “Winter has finally arrived to bless the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro! We’re all super-stoked about the strength of the starting list. We’re sure to witness some epic action from the more established freeriders right through to the new wave of freestyle-oriented big mountain explorers including Jules Reymond and Thomas Diet.”
With 3 competition days set to unfold on 3 different mountains during the course of a 10 day contest window, plus a prize purse totaling €60,000, the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro 2007 promises to revolutionize the world of freeride snowboarding and skiing competition. Riders and skiers will judge one another at the end of the week via video playback in the Austrian city of Innsbruck, determining who made the best overall impression.
Live and delayed webcasts of all the mind-blowing action will be available on www.bigmountainpro.com between 14.00-16.00 daily. Should the technical infrastructure in the area not permit live webcastings, these will be delayed until later in the afternoon. Please check the website for an updated schedule and details.
Contest Window (3 contest days in total): 2nd-10th March 2007
Take off Party: Laax – 1st March 2007 in the Lobby of the Riders Palace. Doors open at 10pm, Free Entry. Live: “Pussywarmers” (Rockabilly); Beats and Visuals: “Round Table Knights”.
Riders’ Awards & Closing Party: Innsbruck – 10th March 2007 @ the “Hafen”, Innrain 149, 6020 Innsbruck. Doors open at 9pm, Entry: 8 Euro. Giant screen with best of Big Mountain Pro action. Live: “Grandfey” (Rock); Beats and Visuals: “Round Table Knights”.
For more about the Swatch O’Neill Big Mountain Pro 2007: www.bigmountainpro.com
For more about all other O’Neill events: www.oneilleurope.com
For more about Swatch and the Swatch Fun Boarder Special Edition: www.swatch.com