The final day of competition at the TTR 5 Star O’Neill Pro Freestyle 2007 wrapped up in Avoriaz on Friday evening, with spectacular victories in the Quarterpipe event for both France’s Arthur Longo and Italy’s Rita Comi.
Clear skies and unseasonably mild temperatures once again welcomed all qualified riders to the huge transition, measuring an incredible 10 meters in height and 20 meters in width. The last 32 men, including 16 automatically-qualified riders, were split into two even semi-final heats to determine which top 16 riders would be making it through to the night-time finals, where $8,000 in prize money and 850 TTR Ranking Points were on offer for the winning trick.
After an extremely strong showing in Wednesday’s qualification heats, Norwegian Fredrik Evensen continued his excellent run of form with an enormous and cleanly stomped backside 540 to push him into 2nd spot going into the finals. Finland’s Peetu Piiroinen, meanwhile, provided onlookers with a real insight into the quality of this semi-final field with a perfectly executed backside 720 mute at least 4 meters out. The 18-year-old Finn was visibly stoked to be in pole position, saying: “I’m really happy with the way I’m riding, and it’s cool to be competing against all these guys in the finals!"
With a star-studded finals line-up, including the likes of Scandinavians Fredrik Austbo, Henning Marthinson and Miikka Hast, it was clear riders would need to be on top of their game to have any chance of walking away with the title. Russia’s Iouri Podladtchikov got the party started with a tweaked out backside 720 Japan, good enough to land him in 6th and push him into 2nd place in the Men’s TTR World Ranking List presented by Swatch. The Scandis have been on fire all week long, and Miikka Hast and O’Neill’s Evensen claimed the next two spots with a backside 900 and gigantic backside 720 Japan respectively.
Thrilling the home crowd every time he dropped in, O’Neill’s JJ Roux was determined to soar even higher than he did at last year’s event. The Frenchman used his second run to launch a sensational backside air more than 6.5 meters out, which saw the judges awarding him 253 points and a place on the podium. Henning Marthinson has been killing transitions all over Europe in recent months, and was proving very hard to beat in the finals here in Avoriaz. Here, the Norwegian’s huge text-book backside 720 mute pushed him into 2nd place with 267 points.
After struggling to tame the transition in his first two runs, France’s Arthur Longo rolled the dice and straight-lined it from the top for his last attempt. The 18-year-old then proceeded to fly 7.5 meters into the air with a perfectly tweaked backside air. The crowd went ballistic, and the judges awarded him 284 points and his first ever TTR 5(FIVE)STAR win. Immediately following his victory, Longo said: "Winning such a great event is a dream come true for me. This win is such a great thing in my learning curve and really important for my career, even though I’m still finishing school. I can’t believe it!"
The women’s finals, taking place earlier on Friday, saw the evolution of female snowboarding leap forward once again. Germany’s Conny Bleicher was boosting stylish backside airs throughout the heat to earn her 216 points and 3rd place. The fight for top honors, meanwhile, was fought out between Finland’s Meri Peltonen and Italy’s Rita Comi. The Italian’s super-sized backside air, measuring 4.5 meters and awarded 257 points, was just enough to push Peltonen’s no-grab McTwist into 2nd place. With a few tears in her eyes following her win, Comi added: “Oh my god, I can’t believe I ended up first! I came here because this competition is always good fun, I honestly had no plan to win it but that’s what happened. I couldn’t be more surprised!"
To check out men’s & women’s rankings from Friday’s finals, check: www.oneilleurope.com/profreestyle