The Nissan X-Trail Jam inches closer as nine riders who competed in Saturday’s Nokia Air & Style in Munich fly to Japan to continue the race for tour champion at the second SIX(6)STAR event of the 07/08 season. A total of Ten international snowboarders will compete alongside another thirty Japanese riders, including new Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour leader Torstein Horgmo (NOR), Nokia Air & Style Title winner Kevin Pearce (USA) as well as Big Air favourite Travis Rice (USA) and current quarterpipe record holder (9.8 m) and TTR patron, Terje Haakonsen (NOR). The event offers the second batch of 1000 Ranking Points and $150 000 USD up for grabs.
The Tokyo Dome will be filled to the brim on December 8th and 9th with the most energetic crowd on the tour set to top 75 000, as riders compete in two formats – quarterpipe and big air – which will guarantee explosive action from snowboarding’s elite. The final event results and TTR points earning are based on a rider’s participation in both formats, with quarterpipe taking place on Saturday, and big air on Sunday.
The Nokia Air & Style in Munich saw the young guns take over and they without a doubt will continue the fight for tour domination in Japan. Current World Nr. 1 Torstein Horgmo (NOR) will be competing directly with Nokia Air & Style Title winner Kevin Pearce (USA) at the Nissan X-Trail Jam 2007 for tour leader. Pearce will be putting up a big fight with incredible experience in both big air and quarterpipe events, as he is also the winner of the Oakley Arctic Challenge 2006 – a Swatch TTR SIX(6)STAR quarterpipe event. Pearce is guaranteed to move into World Nr. 2 but can only move into World Nr. 1 if he wins the Nissan X-Trail Jam and Horgmo places 9th or 10th.
Lower in the rankings, the battle rages on as Mikkel Bang (NOR) is officially announced to be replacing Nicolas Müller (SUI) who dropped out late Sunday night. Bang defied all odds in Munich with a second place finish and will no doubt continue with momentum to surpass all expectations in Japan. The Japanese fans bring the most unique and lively atmosphere to snowboard competitions and “it’s so funny”, says Bang, “because the culture there is different than everywhere else. They appreciate what you do in a funny way. They make you feel like a rock star! The you see you do a good snowboard trick and they love you!” Bang will move from his current position of 12th on in the TTR rankings to just outside the top 5 after the coming weekend’s competition of freestyle supremacy.
Travis Rice (USA) will be looking to repeat his success at last season’s Nissan X-Trail to increase his tour ranking after being eliminated in the first round by Mikkel Bang (NOR) at last weekend’s Nokia Air & Style. You can bet that Rice will go all-guns-blazin’ in Japan as the race for tour leader heats up. There are only six events in the entire tour that sit at the SIX(6)STAR level, so it is crucial for riders like Rice to do well in Japan to build their foundation in the rankings, in preparation for the remainder of the tour. A win at the Nissan X-Trail Jam would move Rice into the top 30 on the Swatch TTR World Tour.
David Benedek (GER) will also be looking to redeem himself after his 4th place finish in Air & Style, alongside Andy Finch (USA) Risto Mattila (FIN) and 05/06 Tour Champion Mathieu Crepel (FRA), all of whom will also move up into the top 30 pending they compete successfully in Japan.
The Swatch TTR SIX(6)STAR Nissan X-Trail Jam continues the suspenseful tour drama of the 07/08 season. Expect major upsets as a new batch of young, progressive riders continue their onslaught of freestyle technical mastery while the big time favourites look to prove they still have it.
If you missed any of the live action from the Nokia Air & Style Munich 07, you can still catch the replay on Freecaster and the event highlights on the TTR web video player.