The Suzuki Nine Knights 2016 sets out on a new “Mission" to innovate hip and transition riding by building one glorious obstacle: a gigantic hip with 5 take-offs, shaped to perfection.
From the 29th of March to the 2nd of April the best transition snowboarders in the world will have the opportunity to progress hip riding to a new level. Playing host to the film and photo mega session is the picturesque Watles, in the Venosta Valley in South Tyrol, Italy. The 3D course design shows a 15m tall and over 60m long multi-feature hip structure with a plethora of take-offs and landing options. The possibilities appear to be limitless and it will certainly be an exciting week that will is topped off with a Public Contest Day on Saturday the 2nd of April 2016.
The iconic Suzuki Nine Knights & Suzuki Nine Queens events have grown exponentially every year; more features and athletes leading to increasingly epic performances at every event. In 2016 the event takes on a refreshing new direction, beginning with the men’s “Mission" to focus on one obstacle: “The Perfect Hip". “The two-year rhythm allows the alternate years a new freedom to keep it fresh, get creative and try new concepts while focusing on progression," explains event founder Nico Zacek. Find out more in the interview below with Nico…
Why and how is the event concept changing this season?
Nico: After running the events for 8 years, we were looking to keep things fresh and we came up with a way to hopefully innovate even more. We will continue to run the “original" winter events that everybody knows on a two-year rhythm, alternating the Suzuki Nine Knights and Suzuki Nine Queens. But we wanted to give ourselves the freedom to run the so-called "Missions" in the lay-seasons. Once in a while we have some really great ideas that we want to realise, but they don’t fit within the original concept. So the first “Mission" we are tackling is “The Perfect Hip" in Watles.
Why the move to Watles? Tell us about the new spot...
Nico: With a new event concept it was also time to find a new resort partner after four incredible years at Mottolino Fun Mountain in Livigno, one of the best host resorts we could ever have imagined. Their partnership and motivation to push the sport let us create amazing things together. We send them a BIG thank you! Everyone should go there to experience true Italian hospitality and ride the kick ass park and terrain. Now we have found an exciting and super motivated partner resort in Watles in the Venosta Valley in South Tyrol, Italy, who have run great events in the past and will help us create more amazing things in the future.
What can we to expect to see at 2016 Suzuki Nine Knights?
Nico: The Suzuki Nine Knights Perfect Hip is going to be a special one; it’s a concept we have been thinking about for a while. Last year we built a great hip, and we were really close to breaking some world records in terms of height. We said ok, now is the time to just focus on this. Let’s build the best hip we possibly can and try to not only to break the highest ski and snowboarding air ever done, but to add different take offs and options, and a crazy quarter pipe to bank take off. We really want to create a playground that is all about transitions and airtime; and then get the best transition skiers and snowboards the throw down it.
Do you have a recipe for a successful event?
Nico: We bring athletes, photographers and filmmakers together and present them with the most innovative playground we can come up with and let them play for a week. This is the concept we usually run and it works. The first ever “Mission" in 2016 is kind of a little ‘throwback’ to the first events, with a smaller crew and a reduced setup; it’s still going to be epic though!
What makes Suzuki Nine Knights special in your eyes?
Nico: Athletes tell us that we don’t have some of the usual ingredients that other events have: hectickness, stress, judging, prize money or start times due live TV. We give them a mellow atmosphere to really play around with their favourite filmmakers and photographers while they can really focus on progressing in their own way. As a concept it has worked well for us and we are very grateful to have many media and spectators on site who are keen on seeing what were doing.