Since Monday both the Men and Women have been competing for a place to go head-to-head with the invited riders in the Pipe and Slopestyle Semi-finals; they will be joined by the top 2 boys and girls from each discipline, thanks to the new format of the Junior contests.
In the Men’s Halfpipe 26 riders (24 men/2 juniors) qualified, with Jake Pates, last year’s winner of the Junior event leading the pack. Along with the other qualified riders he will join a strong contingent of invited riders including a solid party of Swiss with the likes of Iouri Podladtchikov, Markus Keller and Christian Haller. Verena Rohrer heads up the 14 ladies (2 Juniors/12 women) who qualified in the Women’s Pipe, joining Ursina Haller and Nadja Purtschert in the Women’s Semi-Finals, which will get underway today. While in the Slopestyle the top 11 Women, plus the leading 2 Juniors will progress to the Semis.
All the riders had nothing but good words for the brand new Slopestyle course, introduced for the 10th LAAX edition of the Burton European Open. The course starts close to the NoName Cafe and hugs the piste, offering courtside viewing for the spectators. Obstacles include an array of challenging rails, a beefy wall and three kickers measuring 18m, 20m and 22m.
Yesterday’s conclusion of Heat B and C of the Men’s Slopestyle qualifications saw a truly international field of riders on course. Ryan Sean lead Heat C until Markus Mathis from Switzerland put down a rocking run that included a front board to fakie off the wall, a textbook 10 double and front 7 off the toes. His score of 89.33 would not be beaten in round 2. Markus will be joined in the Semi-finals by the top 4 from each of the 2 heats, the top 2 Juniors and the following 11 top ranked riders overall.
With the start lists for Pipe and Slopestyle Semis completed the focus of today’s competition will be the perfectly shaped superpipe of LAAX.