After a super yummy cheese fondue up the mountain and a little beer shower in the local bar, we finally have the full report for you on the slopestyle qualification that went down yesterday.
120 competitors were prepared to face the challenging set up, consisting of a little tube on top, 2 massive kickers and a combination of up rail, hip and down rail, and battle the changing conditions. Although the sun was out once again in the morning, the course was still a bit icy and rather hard, which made bails for the first heat quite painful. The second heat had to fight the super flat light though when clouds appeared for the first time this week, so things were kinda evened out.
Nevertheless we saw some really nice tricks in both heats, likewise again of experienced riders like the Kröll brothers or Andre Kuhlman as well as young and talented hopefuls. All in all it was more than clear though that once again the Scandis dominated the field without question. With Sondre Tiller, Gjermund Braaten, who could move up to TTR Top 10, and Torgeir Bergrem, who pulled Cab 9s, FS 10s and some massive and beautifully tweaked airs over the tranny of the hip, there were already three Norwegians in the first four spots of heat 1. But also Swiss Mathieu Schaer had a great run consisting of a FS 7, BS 9 and a super nice air on the opposite site of the hip, which pleased the judges especially and probably got him some extra points for creativity. Stomping runs like that is made a lot easier when you grow up directly in the heart of the mountains like Schaer, but being a British kid between dryslopes and snow domes, throwing down Switch BS 5s and BS 9s like Jamie Nicholls is even more impressive. Apart from those guys also Luka Jeromel (SLO), Victor De Le Rue (FRA), Keiji Okamoto (JPN) and Sean Ryan qualified for the semifinals.
Although there had already been more slams than are fun to watch in the first heat, it got even worse in the second. Once the sun hid behind the clouds the visibility neared zero, and the already sketchy landings became a true nightmare with almost no one sticking their tricks on the second kicker any more. So compared to the 10 finalists from heat 1, only 6 from the second made it to the semifinals. And, oh what a surprise, apart from Raphael Nerz (SUI), who sticked a super clean FS 10, the rest of the spots were taken by Scandis again. With a smooth Switch BS 5s and FS 10s, Finn Ville Paumola moved into first place right away and stayed there all the way through. He was followed by fellow countrymen Jaako Ruha, who impressed with BS 10s and a massive method over the hip, Janne Lipsanen, who even though he washed out in the landing of the first kicker in his first run still frontflipped over the roller of the second, and Ville Uotila. And to make the Scandi fireworks complete, also Norwegian Joachim Krogstie fired super stylish BS and FS 7s and a Switch BS 9.
Right now the halfpipe semifinals are on at the Bolgen in Davos, although the first run isn’t even through yet, we can already promise you that this contest is going to be very exciting and we’re curious to see if kids like Jan Scherrer and Masakaze Yoshida can overpower pipe legends like Gian Simmen or Markus Keller, who currently leads the field…
Stay tuned for more updates soon!
– Anna Langer