What a day it's been up here today in Laax. Glorious sunshine, a whole bunch of the worlds finest slopestyle stunters and one of the sickest slopestyle courses Europe has ever seen. Home-crowd favourite Isabel Derungs won the ladies comp, while Norway's Brage Richenberg bossed it in the men's.
The Burton European Open is the premiere snowboard contest in Europe and a huge crowd were gathered course-side to watch 21 of the world's best huck themselves on a perfectly groomed (and seriously chunky) slopestyle course.
Somebody out there must've been doing a sundance for us, with the clouds looming in the south staying firmly put for the duration of the women's and men's competition. Don't worry, we had our suncream on.
First up was the ladies finals where favourite to win it Enni Rukajärvi had to pull out after splitting open her knee on a rail (ouch - we wish her a speedy recovery!). Nevertheless, the remaining five women put on a hell of a show over their three runs. 15 year old Japanese shred prodigy Miyabi Onitsuka put down a super solid run which stuck until the very last run of the comp. Isabel Derungs dropped in for her final run and stomped a switch back boardslide to regular, 50-50 front 360 out, 50-50 backside 180 out, switch backside 540 stalefish, frontside 720 mute and backside rodeo melon which was enough to whip the top spot away from Miyabi.
Elena Könz (also from Switzerland), put down a sick run with a cab underflip, front 7 and back 3 to round out the podium in third place.
The men's comp was equally nail-biting/eye-popping, with some seriously impressive riding going down for the gathered onlookers. Marcus Kleveland chucked the only triple 1440 of the day on his second run but couldn't quite keep his hands off the snow when he landed. He finished in 8th place. Kevin Backstrom put down a super stylish run after his recent time out from competing and did enough for 5th place.
But when it came down to it, it was once again the Norwegians who exerted their slopestyle dominance on the course, taking all three podium spots. Brage Richenberg, who we followed down the course for a HEAVY warm up run yesterday and who also bossed both the qualis and semi finals, put down an absolute beast of a first run, which held all the way until fellow countryman Alek Oestreng dropped for his final run. Alek's run was pretty much flawless and featured a cab 180 on backside 360 out, backside boardslide 270 out, frontside bluntslide 450 out, cab 900 mute, frontside 1080 indy and backside double cork 1080 mute.
That run put Alek in first place, leaving it all to do for top qualifier B-rage on the final run of the contest. It was nail biting stuff for sure. But Brage dropped in and totally bossed it, stepping up his final hit and landing a run with a switch backside 270 on 270 out, front blunt 270 out, front 270 on 270 off, switch back 1260 mute, double backflip indy and super sick front 1260 indy off the toes. Understandably he was stoked:
It felt so great putting down the last run. I was like, we’re already three Norwegians on the podium so let’s go for it. I landed, so I couldn’t be more stoked
We totally knew Brage kills it on jumps and rails but we were SERIOUSLY impressed with this kid today. Super good style, tech tricks and not afraid to send it deep. Be expecting big things.
16-year old Mons Røisland (also from Norway...) landed in 3rd.
After the cancellation of last year's comp owing to terrible weather, it was rad to see it return in full force in 2014.
Be sure to tune into the Halfpipe finals going down tomorrow. You can find the schedule and live stream right here.