***UPDATE*** We've now received the official edit from Nike, so here it is...
Check out what went down at the second Nike Snake and Hammers in Montafon, Austria over the weekend and peep all of the shots in our gallery.
[All photos: Thomas Copsey]
The Nike Snake and Hammers - essentially the product of one night of hot passion between Mr. banked slalom and Mrs. slopestyle - returned to Montafon this past weekend. While its parents may be set in their ways, this illegitimate love child of sorts is wild, unpredictable and incredibly exciting.
While most of the Alps has been clutching at straws for snow this winter, there were no holds barred on this year's Snake and Hammers course up at Montafon. The top section featured a stepdown into a corner bowl feature and a series of whoops, before transitioning into two kickers and a hip. After that, riders were launched straight into a cannon feature and an up-stairset with multiple rail options. Finally, a series of banked turns, quaterpipes and a one last kicker completed the course.
Riders attempted to make it down the course in the quickest time possible, with further seconds deducted by the judges for hammers stomped along the way. Without doing tricks, riders basically stood little to no chance of progressing to the semis and finals, where qualifying riders were joined by those invited - Kevin Bäckström, Clemens Schattschneider, Seppe Smits, Jesse Augustinus, Tor Lündstrom plus legends like David Benedek and Steve Gruber to name but a few.
Semis were a barrage of carved turns and creative lines with Kevin Bäckström sending huge backside 180s over the final roller gap, Clemens going hardway backside 360 off the first stepdown and Seppe Smits stalling out big backflip nosegrabs over the big kicker.
In the women's finals Spencer O'Brien looked unstoppable, with smooth kicker tricks and a blistering time of 1.11 (before her trick deductions...), while former Olympian Nicola Thorst also rode incredibly well to claim second place. Mary Luggen rounded out the women's podium in third place.
Spencer's time was so fast that she joined her Nike team manager Sani Alibabic (who was straight bossing it) as well as Kevin Bäckström, Clemens Schattschneider, Seppe Smits, Tor Lundström, Max Buri, Matthias Weissenbacher and Sebbe De Buck in the men's showdown.
Predictably, the action was cranked up to fever pitch in finals, with riders stepping up their tricks and pulling out the rub-on wax for maximum points and minimal friction. The course was clearly no easy feat to get through, even for these guys, with riders pretty much collapsing with exhaustion into the deck chairs at the bottom of the course upon crossing the finish line, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the top three scores were all posted in the riders' first runs.
Seppe Smits logged the fastest time of the day at 1:10.60 and also scored super high on his tricks, which included a backside 360, into a massive backflip nosegrab on the main kicker section followed by a sick front rodeo 7 on the final jump. He posted a final score of 00:50.10 which was enough for first place. Austrian bossman Clemens Schattschneider posted a slower time than third place finisher Kevin Bäckström, but more than made up for it with higher trick scores in the second half of the course. He just took second, with Kevin taking the bronze.
Kevin had been riding really well throughout the contest and qualified for the finals in poll position, with the judges awarded him the 'best hammer' title for his buttery smooth frontside 7 over the big kicker.
All in all the second edition of the Nike Snake and Hammers embodied what all snowboard contests should: creativity, progression and above all, fun. The lucky amateur riders got to shred alongside the pros and even though there was a full park stacked with features next to the course, pretty much all of the riders chose to lap the Snake and Hammers course all day. It's not like you get to ride one every day is it?
Big thanks to Nike and Montafon for having us and we're already frothing to see what they conjure up next year.
Check out our top to bottom run with Kevin Bäckström for a unique perspective of the course and keep your eyes peeled for the official edit dropping soon.
Nike Snake and Hammers 2014 Results:
1st: Spencer O'Brien
2nd: Nicola Thorst
3rd: Mary Luggen
1st: Seppe Smits
2nd: Clemens Schattschneider
3rd: Kevin Bäckström