Homegrown hero David Habluetzel at the inaugral Laax Open. Photo: LAAX
In the second big shake-up in as many years for Laax’s premier freestyle snowboarding event, the Laax Open has announced that its 2017 iteration will be a FIS World Cup contest.
The Laax Open debuted only last year, when it stepped in to replace the long-standing Burton European Open. It initially followed its predecessor in being a major stop on the World Snowboard Tour, the rider-run circuit which has organised contests parallel to FIS (the Interational Ski Federation) in one form or another for several years. Now, however, the Open has crossed over to the WST’s main rival.
“Seeing the WST lose one of its crown jewels to FIS is symbolically significant, and could have a major impact on both organisations”
On paper, it’s perhaps not that surprising – in its new standalone form, there was nothing to stop the Laax Open building on the resort’s already strong relationship with FIS. The Swiss Ski team have had their official training base there since 2013, and the national snowboard team has had much success at the FIS-sanctioned Winter Olympics; current men’s halfpipe champ Iouri Podlatchikov is Swiss, as is inaugural winner Gian Simmen.
On the other hand, seeing the WST lose one of its crown jewels to FIS is symbolically significant, and could have a major impact on both organisations. As it stands, there’s been no official word on whether or not the Laax Open will, as other events have done, also count towards the WST (their website still has the event listed as “planned”). We imagine that if they lose this one outright, it’ll be yet another blow to an organisation that’s still struggling to pin down its own format.
Regardless of what points are up for grabs, we’re just hoping that Laax’s epic halfpipe and progressive slopestyle course remain – and that, some day, competitive snowboarding will make more sense than it does now.