When: 7-9 February, 2008
Where: Bareges, France
3 days of pure good vibe and sunshine led to a brilliant final where Longo beats Mathieu Crepel and Thomas Harstad on the podium.
For his inaugural invitational event - and a TTR 3 Star one at that - Mathieu Crepel had prepared something very special for the riders and the press. Thursday, after checking in at the well named ‘Solitude Chalet’ somewhere in the forest close to the resort of Barèges, everybody had the chance to go up the Pic du Midi (2877m) to visit Skylab, a scientific observatory, and spend a night under the stars. A fantastic experience for everyone, and a short night for some, who didn’t cope very well with the altitude, before a little springy freeride session down to the jump spot. Mathieu had thought about putting the jump at the ski jump area, where some local legend used to jump over 70 meters, but because of the lack of snow, everything got moved to the bottom of the slopes at Super Barèges, which was actually a very good spot for the crowd to enjoy the show. The set up was a 20m tabletop, followed by a jib area for the riders to get extra points, with a C box up, a kink box down and a mini quarter.
A tasty line up of 14 riders was ready to hit the table, shaped by local boy Xavier Marcou and the rest of the Ho5 crew. That was: Freddy Austbo, Arthur Longo, Elias Elhardt, Morgan Lefaucheur, Martin Cernik, Thomas Harstad, Tyler Chorlton, Gerome Mathieu, Dimitri Biau, Heinz Loehle, Jakob Wilhelmson, Håkon Tonnesen, Pierre Rué and of course Mathieu Crepel. The format was simple and inovative at the same time: each riders had to write down 2 tricks on a paper, and a total of 5 tricks were taken from the hat for the riders to execute. An interesting blend of tactics and fun was the name of the game, and a few surprises came out of Anne-Flore Marxer's hands for the qualifying round: Switch Method, Backflip, Frontflip, Cab 5 and BS 900. The riders had to succeed in at least 3 different attempts to make it to the final.
Arthur was first to go for the Switch Method, and landed it perfectly. Only Thomas, Gerome, Heinz, Mathieu and Jacob were able to repeat it. Yeah, a trick that looks simple is not always easy to land! Then the Frontflip wasn't more popular, with only 2 riders landing it: Arthur again, and of course Tyler, Mister Frontflip. Tyler also did a double Frontflip from the knuckle of the jump, just for fun, and got the crowd cheering big time!
Gerome 'Coin Coin' Mathieu then showed he's not only a tech guy, by pulling a huge Backflip out of his sleeve, followed by Mathieu Crepel, Freddy, Elias, and 'On Fire' Arthur with something you could dare call a late Backflip!
Pretty much everyone managed to land the Cab 5 out of this booter, which was certainly more adapted to rotations than flips. Same thing for the BS9, with a special mention to our host Mathieu, who landed a massive BS9 Indy... before taking a gnarly scorpion slam on his way down to the jib area, where the mini quarter and the 2 rails were located.
That qualifying round was going to be a mind twister for the juges, Greg Poissonier, Pacome Allouis and David Pitschi, supervised by Dani 'Kiwi' Maier. After about 20 minutes, the decision was made: Arthur was through to the final, qualifying in first position, in front of Thomas Harstad and Mathieu Crepel, leaving a disapointed local boy at the fourth spot: Coin Coin.
After the surprise draw of the qualifying round, we could expect more crazinest coming out of the second hat, and that's exactly was happened. Our three finalists would have to execute the following tricks: Switch BS9, Switch BS Rodeo 5 - both of those tricks were actually written down by Mathieu - and finally a Double Backflip. God knows what Arthur was thinking when he wrote this down. But maybe that was the one and only good tactic...
The two best tricks counted for the final ranking, and Mathieu was the only one to land a sick Switch BS Rodeo 5, before missing his attempt on the Switch BS9. Thomas also couldn't land that one, leaving Arthur taking the lead. And that was before the unthinkable...
Mathieu didn't want to try the double back but pleased the crowd with a massive Switch BS 10. The tension was into its climax, when our epic MCs of the day Bernard Crepel and Julien 'L'Arrogs' Haricot were flaming the mike for Arthur's final run, the Double Backflip, that he'd never tried before.
In a moment that only snowboard can create, time stopped as Arthur was flying high in the air smoothly, landed it and rode away with the title. "I only tried it on trampoline, I knew I could do it on a kicker but never done it before, and I needed a bit of a push to try it, that's why I wrote it down" said the super stoked winner after the podium ceremony, and before a final party that all celabrated proudly at the Casino of Barèges. Arthur earned himself 550 TTR points, 2000 Euros, and moved into TTR World No. 15, with Mathieu Crepel taking second and moving into TTR World No. 28, while Thomas Harstad rounded out the podium in 3rd place.
Onboard really wants to thank all the Crepel family for putting this sick event together, the vibe was unique, as well as the chalet we stayed in, the 'Revival dinner' at Louisette's restaurant, where the riders could meet up with the old timer legends of the near by ski jump, and the time spent at nearly 3000m watching the stars. Thanks also to Barèges resort and Quiksliver for their help, HO5 and Xavier for the hard work, with a special big up to Mathieu, who gave his 1500 euros prize money to Mountain Riders, an eco friendly organisation which are fighting all year long to keep our mountains as clean as possible.
Guys, we can't wait for next year's edition!
Final Results for the MC Invitational: 1. Arthur Longo FRA (who did all the tricks except the SwBSRodeo5) 2. Mathieu Crepel FRA 3. Thomas Harstad NOR 4. Mathieu Gerome FRA 5. Elias Elhardt GER 6. Frederik Austbo NOR 7. Martin Cernik CZE 8. Jakob Wilhelmson SWE 9. Tyler Chorlton GBR 10. Haakon Tonessen NOR 11. Heinz Loehle GER 12. Dimitri Biau FRA 13. Pierre Rué FRA 14. Morgan Lefaucheur FRA
Photo credit: Matt Georges.