Niklas Mattsson was crowned the first ever ‘King of the North’ after stomping a slew of insanely stylish and technical kickers tricks at the inaugural burn King Of The North Big Air. Sven Thorgren and Marcus Kleveland earned the titles of ‘Prince of the North’ and ‘Lord of the North’ respectively, while Torgeir Bergrem was deemed the ‘most stylish’ rider.
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[All photos: Daniel Tengs]
With the laid-back rail jam the day prior going down an absolute storm, we were expecting big things going into the main event at the first ever burn King of the North. And with a rider list more stacked than the shelves of an Ikea warehouse (and including recently graduated Olympians Ståle Sandbech, Sven Thorgren and Emil Ulsletten), our anticipation for this unique big air event at Trysil, Norway was certainly justified.
The format of the contest was so straight forward my nan could follow it: after a qualification jam, the 10 most impressive riders would go through to finals, with first, second and third places awarded alongside further prizes for ‘most stylish’ and ‘most creative’. Crucially, the opinion of all of the riders in the finals were to be given considerable weight, and would be factored into the final decision.
Despite the forecast predicting doom and gloom, the weather gods were clearly feeling merciful, blessing qualis with blue(ish) skies and sunshine. The 30-odd riders took turns hitting the kicker and put on an epic show for the spectators and those tuning into the live stream.
There was a mouthwatering mix of both tech spins and stylish rotations from pretty much all the riders, but in the end, Ståle Sandbech, Sven Thorgren, Brage Richenberg, Jorn Simen Aaboe, Ulrik Badertscher, Emil Ulsletten, Gjermund Braaten, Marcus Kleveland, Niklas Mattsson and Torgeir Bergrem made the cut for finals, with a wildcard spot going to Tor Lündstrom.
The riders cranked it up a gear in finals, mixing hammers with stylish tricks in a bid to be in the running for the most stylish and most creative awards. Tor was launching sick transfers from the kicker take-off to the side of the landing, Sven stomped a cab 12 roastbeef and sick roastbeef/nose double grabs while Ståle was doing crazy barrel roll style inverted front 360s. 14 year old Marcus Kleveland was riding insanely well and was the only rider to go for (and stomp) a perfect backside triple cork.
But ultimately, only one King of the North could be crowned on the day and the judges and riders were both in agreement that Niklas Mattsson was more than worthy. The Swedish rider landed some crazy tricks – including some we’ve never seen in a big air contest. A definite highlight was his backside 10 double cork with a nose grab switched up to a tail grab halfway through, as well as a cab 10 rocket air and a mind-bending corked backside 3 melon to late crail grab.
Niklas picked up the overall win and most creative title for his efforts while Sven did enough for second. Marcus, who arguably stomped the biggest trick on paper, didn’t quite have the same variety, flair and consistency as the two riders above him and landed himself in third. Torgeir Bergrem, who had been tweaking the shit out of methods, back 1 japans and a cab 5 double stiffies, earned himself the ‘most stylish’ award.
After the Olympics and the insane level of progression leading up to it, competitive snowboarding is definitely at a pivotal point right now. If the progression continues with no regards to the importance of style it risks losing its soul and becoming so un-relatable that it’s straight up dull to watch. The alternative is that riders and contest organisers fight to keep style alive in snowboarding and we think that contests like the burn King Of The North are the perfect example of how to do it right.
How often do you see triple corks, methods, cab 12s, back 180 japans, double grabs and front 3 indys all in the same big air contest? burn hit the nail on the head with this laid back format, which ensured that technicality, style, progression, crowd pleasers and creative tricks were all thrown into the mix, making for a contest that was as gripping to watch as it was progressive.
As one of the judges alongside former Factor Films head honcho / Hoppipolla bossman Petter Foshaug and ex-pro rider Torgeir Berre, I was lucky enough to be right in the thick of it all and can safely say that I’m happy with the final outcome. Niklas may not have gone upside down thrice or hucked a 12, but the tricks he did do had us all outwardly whooping on the knuckle.
Style and technicality can and should go hand in hand and if this event was any indication of the way competitive snowboarding could be headed, I for one couldn’t be more stoked.
Massive thanks to burn for having us and we’re already hyped for next year’s event.
burn King Of The North Big Air 2014 Results:
King Of The North: Niklas Mattsson
Prince Of The North: Sven Thorgren
Lord Of The North: Marcus Kleveland
Most Creative: Niklas Mattsson
Most Stylish: Torgeir Bergrem