Skier: Gaute Haker.Words: Daniel BaurPhotos: Ruedi FlueckWhile all eyes turn to Colorado in expectation of the US Open and the X Games, our yodeling friends from the Alps decided to draw some attention towards Europe. For several years now, the Engadinsnow competition has been known for its freeride and big air action.The place where the magic happens is the Corvatsch glacier, 10,000 feet high in the Swiss Alps. The glacier is usually known for its nice weather and massive snowfall. Unfortunately, this year’s no-snow dilemma has also struck the Alps, and the freeride contest had to be cancelled. However, one man's cry is another man's laugh (as we would say in Switzerland), and so it came that all the attention was drawn towards the Big Air competition.
Alex Neurohr.

It was the first time that I saw the Engadinsnow live and I was expecting one huge monster of a kicker, but what I found was a little bit of a disappointment. The announced 60-foot kicker had a table of not more than 30 feet, and I was left wondering if anyone would be able to spin more then a 720.Qualification, which was open to all riders, started around 11am. A surprising number of riders from all over Europe had shown up to compete (must have been the prize money totaling 10,000  francs). There were Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Frenchies, a handful of Norwegians, two Brits and even a Canadian there to battle for the victory.

As qualification started, a heavy and chilly wind began to blow. It didn’t take too long until the qualification had to be postponed til the afternoon. So I made my way over to the new Playstation 3 (not available in Switzerland yet) and gave that thing a good hand job. Finally the waiting came to an end and the qualification could begin for the second time. The level of skiing was extremely high for the condition of the kicker and landing. Tricks were thrown like switch 5s, 7s and 9s combined with all sorts of grabs and off-axis rotations.
Thomas Kobel.Ten skiers made it to the finals, where ten invited riders would await them for the final battle.The final should have been the next day, but it was postponed a day—nobody could really say why because weather conditions were good. At any rate, at least there was an extra training day, although not many skiers showed up on the slopes. (That might have been due to the “Sex, Drugs, and Roll 'n Roll”-Party the night before.)The next day was marvelous: warm weather, bluebird and a new, freshly shaped kicker, so no one was too pissed about the extra day off– especially those who had had too much sex, drugs, Rock’n Roll or a combination of all three.

Arnaud Bouduban.Lao Chazelas.
Thomas Kobel.Each skier had three runs, and the best one would count for the final score. Once again I had the pleasure of seeing Europe’s finest skiing. Unfortunately the re-shaping of the kicker had made it even sketchier than before, with a steep and icy landing. Not all the skiers could land their jumps and I heard some complaints about the kicker. But in the end it comes to one point: same conditions for all.The winner of the day turned out to be Nico Zacek from Germany. Patrick Hollaus took second place, and third went to Britain’s finest export Paddy Graham. Völkl seemed to have had a good day, with four out of the top six riders sponsored by Völkl (and I won't mention that I heard that Völkl had a chair at the judges' table).
Arnaud Bouduban.
Patrick Hollaus.Although not everything was decided to the satisfaction of all the riders, I do have to cut the judges some slack for letting 11-year old Kai Mahler through to the finals. He stole the show with tail grab 360s and crossed-up backflips.In the end it was a good competition with great weather, even greater skiing and some fine partying. The drinking age in Switzerland is 16, for everyone who doesn’t know it yet.
Janne Van Enckevor.
Paddy Graham.Mattias Menzli.
Albertini Benoit.
Gaute Haker.

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