When: Sat 8th of March 2008
Where: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria
It was a long wait of about two freakin' years for us to witness the sequel to the first GAP session. There was lots of scepticism whether it was going to happen or not, as the weather was a real pain in the ass for the last couple of weeks. Warm conditions, storm systems, rain, snow, frost, you name it! However, all these hinderances did not stop Christoph Weber-Thoresen and Co. to go through with their ambitious kicker-design.
As I walked into the ski-jumping stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen I felt great relief looking upon a prestine setup. The boys did it! Thank God. The massive gap-step-up/step-over looked pretty burly to say the least. The steep in-run alone looked pretty scary, as one reached an average speed of around 100 km/h when pointing it towards the jump. Yiikes! You could slap on some american-football pads, or one of those full-body sumo suits on me, and I would still have second thoughts about dropping into that thing! As these thoughts were spooking around in my mind, Sani Alibabic went for it and opened up the night-session with a Bs 5 Tailbone. It was on!
The session was split up into two rider heats each consisting of 9 riders, where everyone had 3 runs to bust out to try and get into the finals, reserved only for 4 shreds. The first heat saw some very nice and gnarly riding from Antti Autti, busting out a super smooth huge Fs 9 melon and, in my opinion the trick of the night, an insanely massive Fs 10 mute. He landed the thing past the half-way line of the landing. Even I couldn't contain myself and let out a roar upon seeing it. It was a sight for soar eyes........The next rider worth mentioning from the first heat is TJ Schneider, who originally wasn't even on the invited list. He proved within his three runs that he more than deserved to be there with a, out of the ball-park, toe-side Fs 10 Indy. Explained: A toe-side Fs 10 is about 10 times harder to do than a heelside one, as you can catch your edge way more easily, usually resulting in gloomy, gory consequences. Imagine catching your edge, launching you head first into the wall on the other end of the gap? Exactly, pretty scary! The crowd went ape-shit. Japan's Atsushi Ishikawa landed a super sick Inverted Bs 7, where it looked like he was going to land on his head for more than half of his airtime!
The second heat was no less spectacular and exciting, with excellent riding from Gigi Rüf, Arthur Longo and Chris Sörman. Gigi pulled off a Fs 10 tuck-knee, which i think was a premiere. I have never seen anyone do that before........ever! It looked awesome and reminded me of his Cab 9 Japan over the Hemsedal kicker he jumped in 'Saturation'. Ahhhh....the good ol' times. Longo pulled off some nice Sw Bs 9's and Sörman spun super clean Fs 10's. It was a close call between Gigs and Arthur. In the end it was the Frenchman's Sw 9 that beat Gigi's 10, all 'cause he dragged his hand on the landing a bit. A shame really, as I would've loved to see Gigster in the finals.
The finals saw Sörman, Autti, Longo and Schneider battleing it out for glory and trying to impress the judges (consisting of riders from the heats). Another first at the GAP session was the judging system. Forget your nerdy point scoring system! The judges all were wearing traditional Bavarian hunting hats, and were asked to raise them up off their head, if they thought that a riders trick was better than anothers. Pretty cool! Life doens't always need to be complicated....It remains a mystery to me, but for some reason all the riders seemed to have gotten rubber legs for the finals and sketched out on most of their landings. The only rider who kept on stomping his tricks was Sörman, who again pulled a Fs 10 followed by an off-axis spinning Bs 10. Sick! He almost sketched out on the landing of his Bs 10 aswell but was able to save himself and ride it out.....kinda. Tj Schneider attempted a Fs 12 but couldn't really land it clean. Longo tried a Sw Bs 10, and Antti failed at his Fs 10 attempts. It was not such a big guessing game as to who won. Sörman took the victory. He also won the longest airtime of the event clocking in at 2.81 seconds. David Benedek, who was not having the best night, was also honored with the best trick award for pulling a Double Cork 10 in the afternoon before the event.
We didn't get to see any new tricks (except maybe Gigi's Fs 10 Japan variation) but still, the GAP session was a burly contest indeed. A big up to Christoph Weber-Thoresen, Oli Deby, Nick Francke and the other shapers, who worked tirelessly in tough conditions to still make a very decent jump for the riders. Thanks to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen marching band, which made for a very cool intermission between the two heats. We hope that next seasons conditions will be more favourable and that the GAP session will become a yearly regular.
More photos in the GAP Session gallery!
Words: Marko Grgas Photos: Danny Burrows