When: Sat 9th of February 2008
Where: Sapporo, Japan
The Toyota Big Air comp and the kicker have always been a little bit of a paradox. The event is sooooo huge in Japan, and yet the jump's dimensions have remained the same for the last, I don't know, hundred years. This year the organizers didn't want to have it anymore, and the scaffolding stadium jump of the Toyota Big Air was given its first major face lift in years. The jump was increased in size to try to grow to accommodate the level of today's riding. Happy Days!
The riders woke up to blue skies which is not the norm for the usually snowy Toyota Big Air. As the riders boarded the bus to the stadium all the talk was of the Vail Session which everyone had been watching on the live web cast due to the time change. Everyone seemed stoked with the sunny skies and motivated to put on a show.
The show started at dusk, and sixteen riders got two runs on the new jump to make it to the head to head knock out round of eight. In true Japan style the stadium filled with thousands of screaming fans and it was quickly apparent that the fireworks budget was stepped up in correspondence to the increased size of the jump. Kevin Pearce, the defending Toyota Big Air Champion, moved into the round of eight with a stylish cab 9 bs grab where he was joined by his Burton teammates. Nicolas Müller got in with a switch bs 7 and Toyota Big Air rookies Mikkel Bang with a cab 9, and Mason Aguirre with a fs 9. Ironically none of the teammates would go head to head with each other in the round of eight. A sharp contrast to Kevin facing Danny Davis and Nicolas Müller on the his way to the win last year.
In the round of eight Kevin moved on to the next round with another clean 9 against Iouri Padladtchikov, who somehow survived one of the worst crashes of the night and maybe Toyota Big Air history. Iouri slipped out before the take off and launched right onto the knuckle on his back but fortunately was not seriously hurt. Nicolas Müller had a sick switch bs 9 but was beat by Antti Autt'si fs 1080. Mikkel Bang's cab 9 was beaten by Masatake Yamamoto's cab 9, as Mikkel uncharacteristically was not able to hold his grab for the entire rotation. Mason Aguirre was not able to get the landing on his fs 1080, letting Risto Mattila advance.
Coming to the finals; Antti's fs 1080 took Kevin's fs 1080 because of a slight hand drag and Risto took Masatake with a switch bs 9 over a cab 9. In the last round Antti took the win with a fs 1080 over Risto who was unable to land two switch bs 1080 attempts. A glorious day for Flow, no doubt. Marketing 101!
1. Antti Autti (FIN) Flow 2. Risto Mattila (FIN) Flow 3. Masatake Yamamoto (JAP) Rice28 4. Kevin Pearce (USA) Burton 5. Nicolas Muller (SUI) Burton 6. Mikkel Bang (NOR) Burton 7. Mason Aguirre (USA) Burton 8.. Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI/RUS) Santa Cruz