Our look-back at 2009 wraps up this New Year's Eve with September to December, that saw movie premieres tour Europe, lines put down in Alaska, new board brands announced, and Marko Grilc claim victory as the straight jump returned to Innsbruck for the Air&Style.
September’s that time of year when it still feels like summer but all the movies and mags are coming out reminding you that you need to hang up the leopard skin thong and Jesus creepers and start thinking about getting back to the mountains pretty soon. To help with this, the thoughtful souls at a variety of different film companies arrange a relentless barrage of movie premieres – the combination of booze, broing down and having shred porn rammed in your eyes is reminiscent of that bit in Clockwork Orange but it seems the reprogramming works and before you know it you’ve forgotten the beach and are itching to strap in and get amongst some snowboarding ultraviolence. But a few such memorable premieres were the likes of Absinthe’s Neverland which saw the riders and crew rock bus it round Europe, the Pirates Jolly Roger World Premiere in Innsbruck which is especially memorable for members of the Onboard crew ending up kipping in a car boot and the cult-like Isenseven offering the night before the Oktoberfest (and located right by it) thereby allowing the brave to stumble out the party and straight into the biggest drinking festival in the world. It’s at one of these brodowns that we hear the first whispers of the Air&Style bringing a kicker contest back to Innsbruck…
On another movie-related tip, This Video Sucks marks the start of an avalanche of people releasing movies part by part on the web, and it’s not bad by half. Though we’d have to wait till October to see it, mad props must go to JP Walker for setting out to film an entire part switch, and pulling it off.
September also sees the contest spotlight swing back on Europe with the ever-popular Freestyle.CH kicking off in Zurich. From the moment we arrive it’s clear that this winter’s kicker events will be stepping up a level as no fewer than five guys are double corking on the scaffold kicker. Iouri Podladtchikov gets the crowd vote for Crossover Champ with a double cork backside rodeo 9, beating off the FMXers, the skateboarders and the funny-looking guys in the dumbass long t-shirts, whereas a hotly contested snowboard super final sees Eero Ettala stomp a back 10 late cork to edge ahead of Seb Toutant and his flawless Tootsie roll.
Though he obviously didn’t actually do it in September, this was the month when Ulrik Badertscher followed in the footsteps of the likes of the Afroninja, Star Wars Kid and the Chocolate Rain guy and became an internet sensation for his ridiculous backside 1620. Ulrik’s a damn good snowboarder, but then again maybe the Afroninja is a damn good ninja, so we wonder if he’ll suffer the same fate and forever be known as the spin-to-win Nute grab guy? One thing’s for sure, his 1620 certainly got people talking.
Just a couple of weeks after the Zurich event, the crew behind the Freestyle.CH pack everything in a oversized holdall and trek up to Berlin for the first ever Freestyle.Berlin. Crappy weather and a poor turnout did little to dampen the riders’ enthusiasm as Elias Elhardt double cork backside 10d to take the Crossover Champ crown, while Seb Toutant claimed another win by stomping double cork back 10s and 12s.
More new brand news breaks as we learn that freeride legend Jeremy Jones has parted ways with longtime sponsor Rossignol and will be launching Jones Snowboards, a brand created with the all-mountain freerider in mind. Not to be outdone Antti Autti jumps ship from Flow and spawns Antti for NDK. Interestingly, both Jones and Antti’s boards will be made by Nidecker, who are also responsible for YES Snowboards. As one industry insider opined, “It’s like there’s been a revolution at Nidecker. They used to be like the eurocarvers but now the Nidecker kids have taken the reins and they’re really stepping it up with YES, Jones and Antti…"
More good Jeremy Jones news arrives in the first trailer for his 2-year project Deeper that will come covermounted with Onboard in late 2010. The snowboard world shits itself once more just contemplating what this guy gets up to, and all on foot too.
Autumn seems to be somewhat of a Jones fest as Jeremy and his buddy Xavier De Le Rue push the boundaries by heading to Antarctica to snowboard. They tried this trip the year before but heavy seas (heavy seas!?) and bad weather put paid to the idea. No problems arise this time, though, as the boys ride with views of icebergs, armwrestle penguins and return with some mind-blowing images. Ok, so one of those was a lie.
Climbing aboard the sponsorship merry-go-round once more is Norse arm breaker Andreas Wiig as he defects from Nitro to Forum and, shortly after, Foursquare outerwear.Tadashi Fuse is the latest ex-Burtonoid to find comfort in the loving embrace of YES while one of the brand’s founders, Jim Zbinden, leaves to concentrate his efforts on Antti Autti’s embryonic board brand, Antti for NDK.
More double corking madness is seen at the Horsefeathers Pleasure Jam on the Dachstein glacier as Elias Elhardt continues his roll - closer in the Pirates movie, getting double corks on lock and a succession of solid contest results means 2010 is a memorable one for the perma-grinned German.
Despite a cold October and early snowfalls at the start of the month, winter seems a way off in Europe. After a pow-laden last winter, are we set for another dry-ass piece of shit season that will result in brands flaunting their green credentials like a top-heavy go-go dancer desperate for you to tuck greenbacks in her garter come ISPO? In Canada, however, Baldface is loving it.
As 2009 started with the Air&Style, so it ends. Though Billabong had brought the Air&Style back to its roots in the Bergisel the past couple of years as a quarterpipe contest, it was this year that the straight jump format finally made its welcome return to Innsbruck, 10 years after the tragedy of 1999. To celebrate, Slovenian rider Marko Grilc does his best Rick Kane impersination, coming in as a replacement for the injured Seb Toutant (who, by all accounts, is lucky to still be with us after taking way too much speed in the training, and clearing the landing), and goes all the way to top the podium stomping double backs, backside 10 double corks and switch backside 10 late corks in the process. The win also propelled Grilo into the TTR World Number 1 spot, where he’ll remain till the New Year at least.
Though there’s a return to wintery temperatures in our neck of the woods, up in Scandinavia it seems a different kettle of fish as a lack of snow causes The Arctic Challenge, which was scheduled for New Years in Oslo, to be postponed until March. Simply put, there just wasn’t enough snow lying around to construct the Goliath of a quarter pipe, but it could work out to be a blessing in disguise as the Olympics will be done and people won’t be so busy on the lash, trying to cop a feel of anything vaguely resembling the opposite sex. Or even the same sex.
December also sees the first of the US Grand Prix events kick off, that determine which riders will wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes in Vancouver. Not really, they’ll don some minging thing from Burton but you get the picture. Shaun White pulls out a run that, if he does the same at the Olympics, will win him his second gold medal. There’s no point discussing it: it’s a fact. Lein air, backside 9, frontside double cork 10, Cab double cork 10, frontside 10, Cab 10… all with solid height. Plus he's apparently got two more doubles in his ginger sack that he's yet to show the world. Rage all you want about what you think he stands for, his style, his private pipe, his 80s ginger wig, and that he’s the Manchester United of snowboarding, but if he puts it down like that and doesn’t end up first in Vancouver there will be some beanie munching going on here.
As this is written there’s 6 inches of snow outside the Onboard office, the UK is shut down because of heavy snowfall and resorts across the alps are open and full of powder. So now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to close the office and, ahem, test some boards.
And that, as they say, was that. That’s 2009 in Onboard’s eyes – the highs, the lows, the major haps. Did we miss anything you think was important? Give us a kick in the nads in the comments below…