When: 3-10 February, 2009

Where: Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

For the second time Xavier de le Rue won the O’Neill Big Mountain Pro! Not only was he voted as best snowboarder, he was also crowned overall winner.

As it seems the clouds over Austria won’t get empty and it was still dumping like hell on Tuesday, the last competition day that was supposed to be held in Heiligenblut got cancelled and the whole crew mounted the bus for a last ride to Saalbach-Hinterglemm.

And it could easily have been the very last one - on the snowy street up to the hotel bus and hanger got so stuck that neither snow chain or pushing couldn’t move it an single inch. Fortunately the Big Mountain Pro hired the probably most laid-back bus driver in the whole wide world who did not flip out like the common grumpy driver would do. It took a couple of hours and two tractors get the bus on the way again…

Meanwhile everyone else was at the judging session where finally all the lines of all riders where shown on the big screen. Cody Townsend was the clear winner of the skiers who totally nailed all of his four runs – although the clips revealed that even he had a small crash in the face with the kickers which raised quite a few spiteful calls. The backflip of Thomas “Bichon" Diet though got the most cheering from all of the viewers.

Very interesting was also to see the runs of freeride newcomer Fredrik Evensen. What from the distance in Innsbruck had looked like a rather mellow line turned out to be a full on freestyle line. Fredrik was buttering, switching and spinning like none of the other riders did and is surely someone to watch in future!! Deciding between the runs of Jeremy Jones and Mitch Toelderer was a though call – Jeremy has picked the most difficult line in all faces, but Mitch’s riding looked a bit smoother and more fluent. In the end Jeremy became second and Mitch third.

Xavier de le Rue’s runs were shown last but not least and there was truly no question he ripped them all. Speeding down the all of the faces like a maniac and going bigger than any else, the riders unanimously crowned him as winner of the snowboard division and best freerider of the event for a second time.

And then we could at last head on to the well-deserved and eagerly awaited party. After such a great trip and fun week together it didn’t take long until everyone was in full party mode, rocking the dancefloor and the free drinks. Apparently French skiers love to get half naked in clubs and infected the snowboarders as well, so soon basically all the guys, including organisers, guides, journalists and filmers, were topless – whether they wanted or not… I don’t know if there is a night where more shirts were ripped and hung on the ceiling.

When the club finally set an end to the blast it turned out that picking a place half way up a skis slope was maybe not the greatest idea, as getting down there on your feet was quite impossible. But drunk people always find their way and sliding down on the behind was actually not without fun either…

Although this trip can probably not be topped by any event we’re already looking forward to next year’s edition of the Big Mountain Pro and wonder to which mountains the big bus is going to bring this time.

- Anna Langer