When: October 25th, 2008
Where: Battersea Power Station, London
Super Finn Peetu Piroinen wins at London LG Freeze event with a flawless switch 9.
For those of you who can remember, cast your mind back a few years to around this time of year in London – now think Battersea Park, Ben Hinkley doing huge laid out front flips and a packed, frothing crowd screaming for more… for those of you who are on my wave length they’ll only be one event popping into your mind... yes the heady days of the long since departed BoardX event.
It’s been a good few years since this fine corner of London has seen any snowboarding, and it has been sorely missed. So it was with great anticipation that this weekend snowboarding returned to the Capital with a bang – this time across the river at Battersea Power Station, a venue that eluded BoardX for years and as all Londoners know one of the coolest looking building around… even Bat Man thinks so.
The first Freesports on 4 LG Freeze promised a huge amount – not just in the big hitting line which included Danny Kass, Scotty Lago, Pettu Piroinen, Antti Autti, Risto Mattila, Janne Korpi and Stefan Gimpl but also because this was the first big air event of the 2009 LG FIS World Cup Season and the first ever time a FIS World Cup event has taken place on our fine shores. The F.I.S is the main route to the Olympics so many a rider is throwing his toe in for a chance to qualify.
The whopppercock of a kicker… well by city standards anyway… took all week to construct. It was over 35m high and 100m long built from 300 tons of glinting scaffolding. Head shaper Graham Macvoy who I swear has shovels for hands and piste bashers for feet was in charge of a band of mighty shapers who constantly battled against humid temps to keep the jump in good nick… it was melting quicker than a Mr Whippy in a microwave so by all accounts they did an amazing job.
Qualifying went by in a bit of a blur with riders fighting hard for one of the ten spots in the hour long final. The UK riders including Ben Kilner, Angus Leith and the Kern brothers battled super hard to snag a spot in the finals but all had problems stomping their tricks. Angus looked so stylish in the air, with steez so similar to that of Scotty Lago he should be mightily stoked with his effort… he came so close to landing frontside 9’s but just couldn’t quite get the landing gear down cleanly.
With $25,000 up for grabs in the final the riders were not messing around, with the star studded line up the crowd assembled and were frothing to see what tricks were going to be thrown down.
The competition format was pretty straight forward – tthree rounds with the best two rounds been judged but with the last run always been counted… Errr is that straight forward?? Not totally sure but I hope you get the gist. The F.I.S judging system reward points for both skill and style which means that spin to win isn’t always going to be victorious - a good thing as everyone loves to see a bit of style as well as mad twizzle.
The Finals kicked off with one of the scariest things I have ever seen – Martin Raper dropped in and looked like he got stuck in a rut on the run in, he proceeded to fly straight off the side of the kicker and plough through the assembled photographers, knocking them down like dominoes and nearly clearing the barrier in the process. Had there been an open top double decker going past he would have landed squat in the first row ready for a tourist tour of London! After much heckling from MC Tim Warwood and cheers for the crowd he dusted him self down and gingerly got up – he didn’t get many points for the photographer jibbing or his falling leaf down the landing but he was clearly stoked to have survived. He was last seen in the Jaegarmeister bus toasting his good fortune.
In the final Scotty Lago was right up for it and really having a go – the crowd loved his double back flip late 180's and Petja Piiroinen wasn’t messing around either with a cleanly stomped bs 9. The Gimpl was right up there as usual as well with flawless spinning from the wee man… he seems to have the most incredible landing gear for a small chap, nearly always stomping his tricks clean on the tricky steep landing.
Things were super tight at the top in Round three, Gimpl and Peetu Piironen were pretty much neck and neck going into the last jump. The consamate professional Gimpl was going to let things slip on his last hit, he busted out a perfect frontside 9 much to the roar of the London crowd… Gimpl’s smile wasn’t long lived though, Peetu dropped in and nailed the most glorious switch 9 London has ever seen… tipping Gimpl off top spot by a pubes width. So the final standing after the final was Peetu Piiroinen in first, Gimpl in second and swidd rider Benedikt Nadig coming in a very happy third.
The London LG Freeze wasn’t just about snowboarding – the music line up was equally insane and packed with big names. The main stage at Freeze with the power station spookily looming behind it saw music from the likes of Seregeant, Cage The Elephant, The Automatic and Reverend Makers. The real standouts though had to be a blinding set from The Enemy, their first live show in a while and they didn’t let the packed crowd down and also Cypress Hill who rocked the place well into dark after the final.
All said and done I reckon the LG Freeze was a big success – at times it really felt like it had captured the atmosphere that Board X had and with the music line up there was definitely something to keep everyone happy. I hope next year there is more made of a Brit event as it had to be called off this time due to the rain – the crowd would love to see our boys hucking themselves off the jump.
Good work Sports Vision and everyone else involved for bringing snowboarding back to Battersea.