The O’Neill Evolution Superpipe finals played out in front of a crowd of thousands in the Swiss resort of Davos on Friday evening, with Finland’s Antti Autti claiming his first ever TTR win thanks to a faultless aerial display in near perfect conditions.
Autti’s maiden voyage to TTR success began earlier today, when he emerged in top spot following the second semi-final heat of the afternoon. Having been split into two semi-final heats, each of the 32 remaining riders had 45 minutes each to ride as hard as their legs would allow in creative jam session formats. With the top 16 from both heats earning qualification through to the finals, it was all to play for.
Finland’s Markku Koski was on fire throughout semi-final 1, stomping everything from frontside 9’s to tweaked switch backside airs. With that kind of performance, the Olympic bronze medalist was almost untouchable. Reflecting on the way his heat had gone, Markku said: “The pipe is riding super-nice tonight. I’m going to try and do more of the same in the final, maybe try and throw in a backside 9 just to shake things up.” Other qualifiers making it through with ease included O’Neill’s Janne Korpi and US riders Danny Davis and Scotty Lago.
Having ridden with amazing consistency during every training session in the week, Autti did an equally good job of wrapping up his own semi-final heat. Other notable qualifiers included 2005/06 TTR World Champion Mathieu Crepel, 2006 Olympian Gary Zebrowski and Travis Rice, who rolled the dice by throwing everything at his last run of the heat. Boosting out of the pipe with a mix of 7’s and 9’s, the US rider was finally able to guarantee his path into the final. After a nail-biting finish, Travis stated: “This is only my first day of pipe riding this season and I slept through practice this morning so I’m pretty stoked to get through. Not sure what I’ll do in the final yet, I’m kinda wingin’ it right now!”
As riders waited at the top of the Superpipe for the finals to begin, the atmosphere among the crowd was building with the passing of every minute. With 3 runs each to post their highest score, the 16 qualified riders knew that in the present company, only a faultless display of technical superiority in the air would see them claim a podium finish.
As the next hour unfolded under floodlights, it became clear that this was to be no ordinary contest. Koski mounted his challenge for the title from the very first run, posting an intimidating 257 points thanks to his clean rotations and impeccable landings. Little fancied Russian Iouri Podlatchikov was next to raise the bar, capping an already incredible week in Davos. Linking a backside 10 and frontside 9 with unnerving fluidity, Podlatchikov’s first run was enough to earn him a 2nd place finish with 262 points.
Visibly unhappy with a semi-sketched landing on his first run, Antti Autti charged into the pipe for his second run, only to unleash hell on the competition. An inverted frontside 10 into switch frontside 9 saw the thousands of spectators screaming at the top of their lungs. A mix of high altitude straight airs and a freshly dialed backside alley-oop 7 was the icing on the cake for what was a run of epic proportions. Pumping the air at the end of his run, it was clear that the Finn was on unbeatable form tonight. Awarded an incredible 286 points out of a possible 300, Antti’s 2nd run score remained out of reach for the rest of the finals. Delighted with his first ever TTR victory, Antti exclaimed: “I’m so stoked with this win! Scoring my first TTR win means so much to me, and nailing that trick in competition for the first time was awesome. I can’t wait to come back for the next O’Neill Evolution!”
The women’s Superpipe finals, concluding only minutes prior to the men’s finals, saw Junior World Champion Sina Candrian claiming 1st place. In what many regarded as a shock result, the favorites in the women’s finals including the likes of Olympic bronze medalist Kjersti Buaas and 2005/06 TTR World Champion Cheryl Maas had difficulties nailing their runs, and the judges made them pay the consequences by penalizing any below-par landings.
After qualifying in 1st position after the women’s semi-final heat, Switzerland’s Manuela Laura Pesko was unable to reproduce her faultless display but impressive 540’s and clean straight airs were enough to earn her 3rd place. France’s Sophie Rodriguez, meanwhile, flew down the pipe and spun her way into 2nd place with 204 points. Candrian’s superior fluidity and style in her second and final run earned her 222 points, pushing her into 1st place: “I am so happy to win here, I had so much fun in the pipe today and I can’t wait until tomorrow Quarterpipe heats”, said the Swiss after winning.
The world-class field of riders at the 2007 O’Neill Evolution Superpipe event put on a show that will be remembered for a long time to come – not only by the spectators in Davos itself, but also by the thousands watching live on TV and internet. If you’re not in Davos on Saturday to witness the Quarterpipe event, make sure you catch the likes of Terje Haakonsen, Travis Rice, Danny Davis and Janne Korpi live in the comfort of your own homes.
For a full run-down of results, check out www.oneilleurope.com/evolution