When: September 26, 2008

Where: Zürich, Switzerland

Well, it would have done had Mikkel Bang been riding in last night's qualis. Alas, he pulled a DNS, thereby screwing with my perfectly well thought-out pun. Balls.

Bang jokes aside, we're once again back at the Landiwiese in Zurich, land of overpriced crappy food, swarming teenagers, and early season shreddery. You know the deal by now - a smorgasboard of the finest vert skating, FMXing, that thing with two planks and, of course, snowboarding that you'll see till the New Year. This year the contest dudes made the call to up the size of the kicker and while the 36m bandied about might not quite be the case (either that or it's the height of the drop-in, rather than the table) it was noticable the duders had significantly more air-time than last year. After an unfortunate Stefan Maurer guinnea-pigged the booter - the price you pay for winning the gig the year before - the Friday night qualifiers seemed to figure the speed out fairly quick and it was time to get on the mother like it was some hot potato that needed a hammer dropping on it?

Already well-renowned for attracting a solid rider list, if anything this year's gig has sucked an even more stellar cast of rad-o-trons to the nether side of Zurich's lake. I for sure am betting that black hole/end of the world machine thingy over at CERN is responsible. So, if we all end up getting sucked into our own anuses, at least we can feel grateful that we could check the likes of Andreas Wiig, Eero Ettala, Chris Sörman and Marko Grilc hitting the biggest bang booter this fine city has ever seen.

Style and tech were the name of last night's game, with the riders having to put down one hit of each in a respectable manner to be in with a chance of the advance. Some big names, like Wiig, Eero and Sörman fell by the wayside due to only getting one banger in the bag, and with the cut being a mere 4 riders out of the 11 that dropped it was a tough 'un, especially for Sörman who, despite getting the Swedish stomping gear under a tight front 10, missed out on the cut by a mere few points.

But the cats that oversaw the altar that joined style and tech in the holiest of matrimonies last night were Stefan Gimpl, Elias Elhardt, Reto Kestenholz and heat winner Peetu Piiroinen, who proper owned it. Gimpl looked as assured as when you couldn't take the Air&Style ring off him for 3 years, putting down a solid frontside 5 and a neat-o Cab 9; Elias had perhaps the trick of the night with the most über-tweaked front 3 stale - almost poking it round to 450 before getting the feet down; and Peetu flashed his skills in the most Finnish of manners - simply getting on with it, being quiet, humble and seemingly not to stoked about the Thor's hammer of cab 9 and super slow backside rodeo 7. 100,000 dolleri, moi.

So, those are the cats who're through to Sunday's final so far. Another qualifier round is up at 6pm, and then there's the ever-good crossover session from 9.30pm of your Swiss hours. Make sure you watch it all LIVE HERE.

And, oh, I know this thing should be about snowboarding but gawd damn that Sandro Dias fellow sure knows how to ride his skateboard...

1 Piiroinen Peetu Hyvinkää FIN 175.25 2 Gimpl Stefan Leogang AUT 168.25 3 Elhardt Elias Oberstaufen GER 159.75 4 Kestenholz Reto Steffisburg SUI 146.00 5 Sörman Chris Bankeryd SWE 145.25 6 Ettala Eero Helsinki FIN 143.25 7 Gidlund Andreas Mora SWE 3 135.75 8 Grilc Marko Ljubljana SLO 135.75 9 Longo Arthur Les Deux Alpes FRA 125.50 10 Wiig Andreas Olso NOR 111.25 11 Podladtchikov Iouri Zürich SUI 25.00 Bang Mikkel Oslo DNS Benedek David Patsch DNS Wang Lei Beijing DNS