ANNA GASSER AND ERIC BEAUCHEMIN DOMINATE THE SUPERPARK DACHSTEIN
What an absorbing opening for the World Snowboard Tour! For the 12th time already, a studded line up of more than 100 national and international riders gathered at 2700 meters above sea level at the Superpark Dachstein. USD 20.000,- and weighty points for the slopestyle ranking of the World Snowboard Tour were up for grabs at the 2-day-battle of tricks. In a thrilling showdown at brilliant conditions, it was Anna Gasser’s turn – local and everyone’s darling - to cash in her first ever victory at the O’Neill Pleasure Jam. At the men’s super-finals, Eric Beauchemin from the US hyped the crowd with an outstanding run and came in first.
FRIDAY, 14/11/2014 – QUALIFICATION
Apart from some fog patches sweeping over the Superpark on Friday, the weather conditions remained stable for the entire qualification day, allowing for all riders to have a solid run at mostly perfect conditions. While the riders initially showed some respect facing the impressive 5-part contest setup, they constantly raised the bar in the second heat. Jonas Boesiger (SUI), for instance, pulled out a BS10 Double Cork, proving that he was going to have some say in the finals. At the end of the day, however, it was Rowan Coultas (GBR) who came in on top, ahead of 23-year old Alexey Sobolev (RUS) and Jonas Boesiger. In the ladies’ category, Yuka Fujimori (JPN) stepped up to the top of the ranking, leaving Maria Hidalgo-Perlas (ESP) and Henna Ikula (FIN) in positions 2 and 3.
SATURDAY, 15/11/2014 – SEMI FINALS
Accordingly to the contest mode, the top 12 men and the top 6 women out of the qualification came to face the 30 invited riders in Saturday’s semi-finals. In view of the high riding level on Friday, the invited riders knew that this was not going to be an easy ride to the finals for them. As a matter of fact, it initially seemed as if the invited riders were losing ground against the riders, which were properly warmed up from Friday’s qualification. Then Eric Beauchemin, winner of the O’Neill Pleasure Jam 2012 stepped into the game: With a first showcase of his skills, the ripper from the US skyrocketed straight to the top position of the semi-finals ahead of Jonas Boesiger. Also, Sebbe de Buck (BEL) left no doubt that he deserved to proceed to the super-finals: Thanks to a solid run with a stylish Switch Back 9 and a Backside Rodeo in the semi-finals, he had the judges convinced. Among the girls, Elena Könz (SUI) once again proved her talent by winning the semi-finals ahead of Anna Gasser (AUT) and Anna Gyarmati (HUN). 2-time O’Neill Pleasure Jam champion Aimee Fuller (GBR) did not manage to bring on her A-game in her two runs, which left her in 5th place, thus not qualifying for the super-finals.
SUPER-FINALS & BEST TRICK AWARD POWERED BY PORTUGAL SURFCAMP
Cheered by an enthused audience, the top 8 men and the top 4 women from the semi-finals put up a spectacular showdown-fight for the top podium positions. Austria had high hopes for its athletes Clemens Millauer and Matthias Weissenbacher, however, they lost ground to their strong international competitors in the super-finals. Jonas Boesiger secured the 4th place with a clean run, right behind 22-year old Roope Tonteri (FIN), who kept his game together in his final run. This year’s runner up is Alexey Sobolev, who also won the Best Trick Award powered by Portugal SurfCamp with his massive Switch Back 10 Mute, and can thus look forward to a 2-week surf trip. The Russian was second only to 23-year old Eric Beauchemin, who already in his first run made clear, that he was not going to let anyone else take away the crown of the O’Neill Pleasure Jam 2014. “The park setup is really good. I simply feel good here and I’m very happy with my runs, especially with my victory run at the end, I never had that before", Eric comments. As a 2-time O’Neill Pleasure Jam champion, Beauchemin is now in the line of succession of Elias Elhardt (2009, 2010) and Nicky Wieveg (2005,2006).
Among the ladies, the super-finals‘ battle for the victory turned into a real thriller. After a solid run of the third-placed Kristiina Nisula (22) from Finland, the 27-year old Elena Könz (SUI) rushed all the way up to the top with an outstanding run. It seemed as if she already had secured the victory with this performance. But then local rider Anna Gasser (23) stole the lead from her with a fantastic run involving a superstylish Cab 7 Mute, which also got her the Best Trick Award powered by Portugal Surfcamp in the ladies’ category. “At first, I did a safety run, but when I saw the others raising the bar so high, I had to take the risk," Anna says. After being the runner up last year, she is now the first Austrian ever to win the O’Neill Pleasure Jam. “I basically grew up here, so winning this competition is really special to me."
The O’Neill Pleasure Jam 2014 found its end with a sublime finale and has left us with lasting impressions – not only in the minds of the audience and the competitors – but also in our media stock. For those of you who couldn’t manage to be there and those who simply can’t get enough of it: Check out the highlight video and browse through the literally jam-packed gallery. You can find all the results and info on the event on www.pleasurejam.com and on Facebook.