[Photos: Tommy Solstad.]Check out The Arctic Challenge video highlights here.
In the middle of the beautiful and magical forest of Oslo, trolls were holding on to their hats as they were joined by snowboarding’s elite riders and cheering spectators for the epic Quarterpipe contest, the 6Star Oakley Arctic Challenge. This week long shred extravaganza is renowned for spectacular action and providing a platform for the progression of snowboarding. Today’s electrifyingly intense final saw Arthur Longo (FRA) claim the title and walk away with the biggest part of the $100,000 USD total prize purse and 1000 Swatch TTR ranking points, launching him into TTR World No. 7. Newcomer, Matt Ladley (USA) took second place while Antti Autti (FIN) came in third shooting him into TTR World No.5.
To win this contest is not easy and commands respect. One more reason for Longo’s big smile after the competition was the fact that he only recently had taken out the 5Star Crans-Montana Champs Open, too. “It is so good – I just got two big victories in three weeks or even less. But I cannot really realize that I won yet – I am so stoked”, he said.
Despite some clouds and heavy snowfall, the Linderudkollen ski jump arena provided the ideal setup with its perfectly built 10.6 meter Quarterpipe. Judges were looking for height, style and technical difficulty. Out of five runs, the best three were counted into the final score with extra points rewarded for variation of tricks. Arthur won the contest with styled out spins which demonstrated a full repertoire of tricks. His winning runs were a BS Alley-oop 360, BS 5 Mute and a super smooth FS Alley-oop Stalefish.
No one expected Matt Ladley to finish second but he earned his spot with a Chuck Flip Melon Grab, BS 7 Mute and BS 5 Mute (which was also awarded as ‘Best Trick’ of the day). Antti Autti’s third place finish was a result of his ability to consistently land super technical spins. Despite some heavy slams, he pulled off a FS 7 Melon, BS 5 Nosegrab and FS 9 Inverted Tailgrab. Haakonsen (NOR), apart from fighting against unfavorable conditions all day, still managed to post the ‘Highest Air’ with a 6.5m BS 5 Nosegrab.
The Swatch TTR Ranking was truly shaken after the event, setting up heavy showdowns for the upcoming 5Star Asian Open in Japan and the 6Star Burton U.S. Open. Risto Mattila finished 4th but still managed to defend his World No.3 Ranking. “It feels good to be World No. 3 of course, but I am bummed because I bailed on my last trick. I got some good points so that’s ok”. Last year’s Swatch TTR Tour Champion Kevin Pearce has moved into World No. 4 with a 12th place finish, as Antti Autti follows behind in World No.5. Both these riders are still in contention to take out the Swatch TTR Title in the coming weeks. Olivier Gittler (FRA), who had only missed the finale by inches, jumped up into World No.14, with Thursday’s joint ‘Highest Air’ winner, Shayne Pospisil (USA) snapping at his heels in World No.15. Veteran rider Gian Simmen (SUI) has also continued his ascent up the TTR Ranking and now sits at World No.19.
Stay tuned when the Tour moves to Japan, February 24th – March 1st, 2009, for the 5Star Nissan X-Trail Asian Open, where riders will stepping it up as the season end looms. There is still chances for the ranking to change and with a total prize purse of $200,000 USD, you can be sure the action is not over yet.2008/2009 – Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour Rankings as of: 21/ 2 / 09
1 Piiroinen, Peetu FIN 904.59
2 Guldemond, Chas USA 811.87
3 Mattila, Risto FIN 782.92
4 Pearce, Kevin USA 782.78
5 Autti, Antti FIN 754.81
6 Korpi, Janne FIN 702.01
7 Longo, Arthur FRA 690.43
8 Reid, Charles CAN 682.20
9 Horgmo, Torstein NOR 670.44
10 Malin, Markus FIN 658.41