Training session generates excitement as the riders boost in the quarterpipe and slopestyle.
[The Onboard crew will be reporting live and direct from Davos as of tomorrow evening, so check back for the lowdown. In the meantime, here's the haps from the first lot of training...]
Training is underway for the 2009 O’Neill Evolution on both the quarterpipe and the slopestyle at the base of the Jakobshorn in Davos – with the riders raving about the quality of both.
“The quarterpipe feels really good this year," said 16-year old Canadian rider, Seb Toutant. “It’s bigger but it’s got a much smoother lift. It’s going to be a lot easier to get some good height," he added.
However it was over on the slopestyle course that Toutant was demonstrating just why there is such a big buzz around his name this year. “This is a cool course," he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s not the biggest slopestyle but it means that people are going to pull out some pretty cool tricks and go that much bigger."
The new knock-out round format is something that Seb is also very much looking forward to. “You have to do three different runs, with your best two counting," he explains. “It means that you have to do a lot of different tricks to impress the judges each time. I think that suits me. I like to try to learn new things, and this pushes you to do that."
Current Swatch TTR World Tour leader Chas Guldemond is another rider stoked to be part of the 6Star event. “This quarterpipe is one of the biggest in the world. It felt really good in training," he said.
Although determined to do his best, “I am going to do a few stylish McTwists and some stylish rodeos," he said, Chas is not worrying about his number one status; “I want to give myself the best chance," he explains, “but I am not going to put any pressure on myself. I want to go have a good time and put on a show for the crowd."
“I never used to ride so well in quarterpipes," Chas says, “but then I went to the X Trail Jam and things just started to come together for me. I don’t know why – maybe it’s because I am older. I’m also in good shape at the moment. I worked out for 9 weeks before the start of the season, just stretching and going for huge hill walks. It makes a big difference."
It’s not just the tricks and the amplitude that will be impressing the crowd at this year’s O’Neill Evolution. It is also the new addition to the evening-time event – the lighting.
This year three 5-meter wide balloons will float about 25 meters above the quarterpipe and the slopestyle course. Each balloon contains HMI lights which are more often used on film sets – producing a strong white light, as well as halogen lights, providing a warmer light. The effect is a feeling of daylight – amazingly bright, just without the glare.
In addition, 14 smaller balloons each 1.6meters in diameter will sit on the start lines of the both the quarterpipe and the slopestyle. The lights will be launched this evening.
Slopestyle qualification starts tomorrow (January 7) at 11am with three 75 minute heats of around 30 riders each. Every rider will have three runs, with their top two scores counting. Five riders will progress to the finals from each round, with the top scoring sixth placed rider also progressing. Judges will be looking for variety, amplitude, technique and fluidity and style.
RIDERS The confirmed invited riders are: Chas Guldemond Janne Korpi Seb Toutant Stefan Gimpl (slopestyle only) Antti Autti Risto Mattila Peetu Piiroinen Gian Simmen Eirik Haugo Frederik Evensen Henning Marthinsen Kim-Rune Hansen Tim Humphreys Manuel Pietropoli (quarterpipe only) Colin Frei Iouri Podlatchikov Arthur Longo
FORMAT In a break from the norm, The O’Neill Evolution will be using a new heat system – based on that of a surf contest. 4-man heats will start in the round of 32 snowboarders, and from the round of 18, this will be down to 2-man heats to determine the finalists and the winner. Changing over to this K.O. system will guarantee an exciting contest with a clear undisputed winner.
PROGRAM Mon 05 Jan Training Tue 06 Jan Training Wed 07 Jan Slopestyle Qualification Thu 08 Jan QP Qualification Fri 09 Jan Slopestyle Finals Sat 10 Jan QP Finals
LIVE WEBCAST The O’Neill Evolution will be broadcast live at www.oneilltv.com, and you'll be able to watch it all right here on Onboardsnowboarding.com thanks to the cats at MPORA for the finals on Friday January 9th, and Saturday January 10th. Tune in for that, homies.