When: 15 January, 2009
Where: Laax, Switzerland
Stellar slopestyle shenannigans in Laax sees Norwegian girl and American guy top the podium.
Ok, so it doesn't quite have the same ring to it as that Kanye West/Estelle tune, but the riding sure had some heavy beats to it and even a couple of interesting hooks.
Musical references abandoned now, and we'll just focus on what was a killer final in the epic slopestyle environment on the back side of the Crap Sogn Gion. The Burtonoids certainly went to town for this 10-year birthday bonanza, and had a two bonkables leading into a wallride, down rail, couple of walls of a pipe, and then three kickers that gave the riders plenty of airtime to spin-to-win with good style.
The points were divvied up in a way that 50% of the marks were for your riding on the upper part of the course, with the remaining 50% being made up of what the judges made of your kicker skills, so you wouldn't be able to get away with just being a jumper, you'd have to jib, bonk, slide and air with equal alcracity if you wanted a slice of the birthday cake.
As the age of chivalry is not quite dead just yet, we'll take the ladies first. After the abandonment of the Roxy Chicken Jam last December, it was our first chance to see the women shine in a major Euro contest this season and shine they certainly did with a succession of steezy jibs and throwing 3s, 5s and 7s into the mix too. Although a couple of hot bets were absent (Jamie Anderson gave herself a hipper decking out in the pipe yesterday and Jenny Jones couldn't make it back from the States in time), the girls were in full effect with some newcomers like Sarka Pancochova from Czech and Norwegian Silje Norendal facing down more established names like Silli Mittermüller, Cheryl Maas and Chanelle Sladics. Maas and Mittermüller traded sevens and tasty jibs while Sarka's performance made people sit up and take notice, but it was to be two Norse godesses and one local lovely that took the top three spots. Third went to Kjersti 'The Notoroious K.O.B.' Buaas who's got to have one of the best styles around. Front 3 stales and perfect frontside 7s on the kickers, a Haakon in the semi pipe mixed in with the topside jibs got bronze, a bunch of TTR points and some dolla billz. In second was local Sina Candrian who'd been riding strong throughout and whose back-to-back 5s in the semipipe would have scored highly, as would the front 9 on the last booter. But first? Well, that would be Ms Lisa Wiik. Having battled her way through the qualifiers, she'd been riding super strong all week and fully deserved her first ever BEO title. Seriously, she must have been eating her veg over the summer as she's really stepped it up and was super consistent on both areas of the course, her run including a McTwist, back 5, back 3 and front 3. Congrats, Lisa. So stoked for you!
The men's final was certainly dramatic, with the number 1 spot changing almost after each rider dropped for a while as the guys tried to outdo each other in a blatant show of snowboarding one-upmanship, the flashy gets. First it was Antti Autti in pole, then Chas Guldemond, then Mathieu Crepel pipped him, and then Shaun White stepped it up with the ever-consistent Peetu Piiroinen snapping at his heels. All in the space of 5 or so runs. The riding was certainly first class but you do find yourself becoming a tad desensitised to the level of snowboarding when everyone is putting down 10s in all directions with good style. Nevertheless, it was really some spectacle and there was epic shredding from all involved. From Guldemond's McTwists and back 12s, to Koski and Crepel's rodeo action, to the emergence of 15-year-old Ståle Sandbech as a snowboarding superpower, it was all about the hammers. But when the one-upmanship had come to its conclusion it was Danny Davis who pulled it out the back to finish ahead of Peetu and Shaun with a run seemingly pulled like the proverbial rabbit out the hat. Switch BS 9s, FS 10s and Cab 9s and the sliky finery of the front 3 handplant on the top bonk on his last run was enough to edge ahead of the killer skills of Peetu and Shaun, for whom it wasn't quite happening for.
Youri reckons Peetu should have won but for this correspondent, the tech of Davis was a smidgin higher but props to all the riders for an epic show. Now we're preparing to head up to gawp at the pipe finals, so check back for the haps later.