When: 3-10 February, 2009
Where: Brandjoch, Innsbruck, Austria
The second day of the O’Neill Big Mountain Pro was again blessed with blazing sunshine and an impressive face on the Brandjoch towering over Innsbruck.
The Brandjoch – they hiked up and rode down on the very left side – big respect!!
With beautiful scenery to look down on, they first had to traverse to the left end of the mountain before they hiked to the very top in icy winds that even brought the heli that was filming their runs, off balance from time to times.
Although the weather was very nice, there was a strong wind blowing and the guides weren’t a hundred percent sure about the conditions of the snow. Thomas “Beckna” Eberharter had already decided in the morning not to participate this day. After his slam on the second run yesterday the herniated disc he had had a couple of years ago started hurting again and he didn’t feel fit enough for the challenge of hiking and riding the Brandjoch. “For such a long hike and difficult run in difficult conditions you have to be entirely fit”, he explained [Watch the interview with him on ONBOARD TV]. Also Austrian rider Eric Themel decided not go for this run, the strong wind and unsure snow conditions gave him a bad feeling so he stayed with the rest of us to watch whole thing going down from a safe – though freezing – position on the opposing mountain.
Beckna and Eric watching the others ride the gnarly face
The face was much more impressive than the two the day before, and alone the traverse and hike must have been really exhausting. Finally at the top it was still not sure whether the riders would go for it or not…
Although the riders were so far away you could hardly make out more than what looked like little ants on the ridge and you had to stare really hard not to loose them on their way down, all spectators didn’t let their eyes slip away for a second and it was death silent almost all the time.
Innsbruck local Flo Orley, who was participating in the BMP 08, played the guinea pig and dropped in first to check out the conditions.
After a looong hike the riders finally reached the top and had the most amazing view over Innsbruck
After his okay, the skiers started the competition and released some avalanches that looked pretty scary and everyone was screaming for them to get to the safe zone.
As if they were trying to provide some extra entertainment in between the runs, there were two herds of chamois speeding down the mountain like hell – we were all wondering how at that speed they managed not end up doing the cartwheel-tumble thing some of the riders did yesterday.
But the chamois only took the spectators attention for a minute and soon all eyes went back to the riders. Mitch Toelderer was the first snowboarder to drop. He chose a rather technical line with two cliff jumps, the last of which released another little avalanche. Jeremy Jones’ run was very fast and technical once again. You could see this mountain was more satisfying for him and he had great fun and nice airs of two rollers.
No idea which rider this is – but that gives you an idea why we were playing “search the rider in the face”…
The “bid mountain newbie” Fredrik Evensen, who rode rather passive yesterday, also began to warm up. Instead of picking a mellow line he crossed the whole ridge, sped through the powder field and was even the only one to show a proper spin. According to Eric and Beckna, who watched all of the runs comfortably from the other side of the mountain, the best run of the day was again by Xavier de le Rue. “He picked a quite difficult line and was still riding so fluently” they said, “and he also had the most features in his run.”
The day was a great success and the vibe was different as it could be compared to the first day. Everywhere you saw stoked, happy faces and from all conversations you could catch phrases like “great fun”, “amazing day” and “so much fun on the mountain”.
Fredrik Evensen rocking the roller
Although he’s actually a true freestyler, Fredrik liked this face more than the one with kickers in it the day before: “If I’m riding a mountain like this, I don’t care about kickers! I even think they shouldn’t build kickers for this competition at all. Just leave it natural and see how people get creative on rollers and hips and stuff.” Jeremy also added that it’s quite weird to hit the icy kicker after riding powder all the way from the top.
For him there was also no question about the conditions today. As the big mountain regular he is, there was a risk today, but it was manageable. “This is what we do every day. It’s always a risk, but it wasn’t too warm, plus the strong winds kept the snow cold.” He was a bit concerned about the lesser experienced freestyle riders though: “Although there were only wet slides going down today which are pretty slow, predictable and easy to escape from, I wasn’t sure whether they know they can’t go back in a curve or stay in couloirs to have a break. That’s the only point where it could have gotten really dangerous.”
Jeremy Jones killing it
Especially Jeremy had a big smile on his face after this day. “The faces we did yesterday were just a warm up, it was more an all mountain than a big mountain comp. If we keep the level between the mountain we did today and yesterday, this is what I’m talking about. I would ride the face we did today just for fun.”
With all needs fulfilled for now, we will spend some time travelling catch all the dumping that is forecast for the weekend! Stay tuned for more news…