[Photos: Alex Roberts.]
After the not-so bad weather day and the not-so heaps of not-so powder we didn’t ride, Sunday broke with blue skies and warm temperatures. The decision to postpone was a wise one, even though it meant we had an hour less sleep. As the contest was on, no one really got wasted at the party the night before anyway and the clocks going back meant, as Drew Stevenson astutely explained, “At 1am it’s gonna be 1am again. Or something like that…"
Bathed in the sunshine, the park looked even sicker than ever and the riders wasted no time getting stuck in. The short time needed to do your run and get back up to the top on the speedy chair meant the action was pretty much continuous, even though by the end of the day the finalists had almost ridden too much. Almost. “A hell of a session," said Mone Monsberger to Jaakko Ruha, and indeed it was.
After a few hours of warm up, the semis got the day underway with each rider getting 4 runs to impress the ‘snowboard critics’, with the best 2 counting. As in the qualifiers, the riders had to mix it up and show variety in their runs, taking in a kicker line and a rail line to be judged on. The riding was hot from the get go, with Beckna and Wolle Nyvelt clearly loving the cradle and lower air-in, air out half-bowl/cradle taco thing, Jaakko Ruha was putting down impressive combos on the kicker line, as was Kalle Ohlson who landed his first cab 10 in between can 9 shifty shiftys and big backside rodeos. Tonton Holland was showing off his enviable style on all the obstacles and Michi Stanschitz was turning heads with some heavy high speed tech on the rails and boxes. And Tomi Savela, while not turning the techometer too far, went huge on every hit with some serious steeze.
After a short break for a reshape and some grub, the super final was good to go. Due to time constraints the riders were given 3, rather than 4, runs to do the business, but after so much shredding I think they were pretty stoked with that. The heli was in the air getting the money shots for print, web and film, the riders at the top of the course and the ‘critics’ were ready. Once again the riding was epic with everyone relishing both the park and the judging criteria. Marc Swoboda was ruling the jibs, Tonton was front boarding the top of the taco and Tomi Savela was booting it. However it wasn’t to be enough to break into the top 3.
Kalle Ohlson looked good to challenge for what would have been his second Wängl Tängl victory, but despite a solid jib run, sneaking in a huge backside rodeo in the middle, his killer last kicker run was marred by failing to stomp the back 9 on the last hit. The earlier line was solid enough, though, so it was still good enough for third place. Second place went to Finland’s Jaakko Ruha who had the kicker line of the day, cab 9, bs 1080, fs 9 finished off taking the high line round the taco and bs 180 out. But in first? Drum roll please…
Steve Gruber. Steve had been ruling all weekend with his patented brand of stomped-to-death spins, jib mastery and cradle slashing. Seriously, when you see this guy land off a kicker he’s always gone huge and he always lands perfect – almost flat base and no sign of wobble firing him into the next hit like an Austrian Exocet. Or something. Clean, powerful, technical with a kicker line consisting of a Cab 720, switch backside 540 & backside 720 netted Steve his second Wängl Tängl title and saw him taking the cash and the quad bike for a spin.
That’s that, then. The contest was a banger and it’ll be very interesting to see what the Ästhetiker massive come up with for next year. Bo!
1. Steve Gruber (AUT)
2. Jaakko Ruha (FIN)
3. Kalle Ohlson (SWE)
4. Marc Swoboda (AUT)
5. Wolle Nyvelt (AUT)
6. Tonton Holland (CH)
7. Ville Uotila (FIN)
8. Herbert Thaler (AUT)
9. Tomi Savela (FIN)
10. Michael Stanschitz (AUT)
11. Quentin Robbins (NZ)
12. Jean-Jacques Roux (FRA)
Best Line: Tomi Savela (FIN)
Best Trick: Tomi Savela (FIN)
Best rail shredding: Mark Swoboda (FIN)
"Taco" Jibber: Quentin Robbins (NZ)