When: Sat 19th of April 2008

Where: Ischgl, Austria

What happens if you invite 50 rookies from all over the world to Ischgl? First, the local Burger King probably makes the most profit of the season. Second, the hotel owner almost gets a nervous break down. And last but not least, you see some underage kids killing it with Cab 9s as clean as a quarantine station. Shaun, Kevin and Risto, watch out these groms!

After successful stops in the Czech Republic, Italy and some other 1 and 2 star TTR events it was time to crown the champion of the World Rookie events series that is organized by the World Snowboard Federation at the World Rookie Fest in Ischgl. The WSF gives young bloods the chance to be in a national team and thus have financial support by their country but nevertheless be able to join a TTR and not a FIS event. But besides the highly desired TTR points there was more to grab for the world´s best rookie, probably the best prices that you could imagine being a 17 years old: A trip to Canada with the Pirates to shoot for their next flick PLUS a ticket to the Air & Style Rookie Contest in December! Wow!

„Wow“ was probably the word that tried to come out of Gjermund Braaten´s mouth when he was announced World Rookie Champion on Saturday but for a few minutes he couldn´t say anything but just smile. Only two days ago, the 17 years old was just one of 50 rookies from 12 different countries who arrived in the small village of Ischgl to attend the last Swatch TTR 3 star event. Gjermund already was a hot bet as he had became 3rd in Livigno which gained him a wild card for Ischgl but Teddy Koo from Japan, winner of the stop in Czech Republic, was also keen on winning the title of the world´s best rookie and the same goes for probably all of these little brats with their 128 cm boards and their sardonic laughter when they see you trying to do a BS 180 over a slope roller and failing.

The qualifications on Friday already saw high level riding in the perfect shaped park with a nice kicker and an innovative rail line but the finals (with 16 rookies and 8 groms) on the following day were mind-blowing! Super clean fs 5 to bs 5 combos, fs 7s and cab 9s. Most impressive was probably Dimi De Jong´s perfect fs 9 tail grab and I´m pretty sure I also saw him doing easy going 10s (hard to tell, these little boys spin so fricking fast…). This young blood from Netherland was killing it: He not only won the title of „world´s best grom“ but also became 3rd in the overall ranking! Giorgio Ciancaleoni proofed that there is a new generation of upcoming Italian riders: Sick style (one of the nicest fs 7s I have seen for a while), sick tricks (270 in on the kinked rail,) and sick clothing taste (did I already mention that he is Italian?). Third place in the rookies ranking went to Nuutti Niemelä from Finland with huge fs 9s but also his team mate, Petja Piiroinen, showed with various 9s that the level of today´s rookies would probably have won you the Air & Style crown a few years ago: He not only became 4th but his massive bs 7 on the 20 meter kicker also earned him the “best trick of the day"…

In the end it was Gjermund Braaten who rode super consistent all day long and whose switch bs 7s and cab 9s were bigger and smoother than everyone´s else. Watch out for this Norwegian, he might be the next Mads Jonsson - don´t miss his interview in one of our issues next season!

In the girls category Rome rider Kari Opsal Maeland from Norway got crowned “Female World Rookie Champion 2008" with nice backflips and sick rail tricks on the kinked box. How Kari felt after the her victory, what she likes most about an event like this and why her season is still not over, she will tell in an interview uploaded on our website this week!

Thanks to the WSF for such an amazing event with so many good riders! I had looked forward to see some German rookies as well but there weren´t any thanks to the German Snowboard Association who unfortunately stepped back from participating in the World Rookie Tour. In my opinion a bit embarrassing when all „big snowboard countries“ like Austria, Switzerland or Finland show up but Germany prefers FIS events. Maybe next year Germany?

Rookie Male

1 Gjermund Braaten (NOR) 2 Giorgio Ciancaleoni (ITA) 3 Nuutti Niemelaa (FIN)

Rookie Female

1 Maeland Kari Opsal (NOR) 2 Aimee Fuller (GBR) 3 Francesca Fazi (ITA)

Grom Male

1 Dimi De Jong (HOL) 2 Emil Andre Usletten (NOR) 3 Sven Thorgren (SWE)

Grom Female

Maria Delfina Maiocco aka "Bibi" (ITA)

Best Trick:Petja Piironein (FIN) - huge bs 720 on the 20m kicker

Best Team: Norway

For video, pics and full ranking visit the official website www.worldsnowboardfederation.org