As Team Captain of LINE skis Europe, it is my duty to make sure our athletes are at their peak form in order to compete. That's easier said than done when you spend the week in Laax, Switzerland for the Swatch European Open. LINE was well represented with our riders spanning from around the globe. On hand for the event were the Euro's Patrick Hollaus, Jussi Mononen, and the hometown boy, Nils Lauper. Also representing LINE from across the pond were LJ Strenio, Joe Schuster, and Joss Christensen. And of course, we must not forget our only girl competing, Marina Happach from Germany. With so many athletes to look after, I really didn't have that much time to party. Yeah right! As it has become tradition, LINE once again threw down another successful banana bar at the bottom of the halfpipe on the last day. Did I mention that there was a comp going on as well?
Sean “the banana”Balmer and myself “the peel”
First up was the slopestyle comp, and even through questionable weather, the boys threw down hard. The Euros, Patrick and Jussi, were killing it on the kickers with various 9's and flat 5's. I even overheard Colby James West ask who Patrick was after he went richter with one of the most steezy flat 5's I have ever seen. Making it to the semis were Patrick, and all the North Americans.
Patrick making himself known (pic by Ben Burnett)
The semis were amazing, but unfortunately, the level was just too much, so either you had to have the best run of your life, or hope that all the X-game namers crashed. The boys went big, but only Joe made it through to the finals. On the women's side saw Marina attempt her first 9, but she lost control and didn't make it to the finals either. But since the crew didn't go on, except for Joe, it gave them more time to belly up to the banana bar.
Patrick and the banana
Joe rode well, but his two final runs were scratched due to falls. But anyone that knows Schuster knows that he is well rounded enough to not be deterred and was there to show true form at the parties. Oh yeah, did I mention that there was a bar at the bottom of the halfpipe?
The Banana bringing some beers
The halfpipe side had Joss, LJ, and Nils competing against the best names in the business, including Jossi Wells, Matt Phillipi, and X-Games gold medal winner, Xavier Bertoni. So with that kind of level, combined with the madness of the bar at the bottom ensured for a great event!
Jossi and Nick Draxl enjoying the pipe finals
ThePeel, Xavier (behind the bar) and the Banana
Nils, coming off an amazing pipe season (in his first true season competing in pipe, he ranked 3rd overall in the World standings) amazed the his hometown followers by boosting huge, and managed to make it into the finals.
Nils is shorter and I am fatter
He may be shorter, but his airs aren´t (pic by Ben Burnett)
When it was all said and done, Nils scored a respectable 9th and was ready to drink with the rest of the LINE team.
The LINE Team training
The banana pouring some shots
There was a new addition to the banana bar this year courtesy of Jussi. During his first quali run, he managed to snap the back of his ski, but even that couldn't stop the mad Finn from getting after it again on the broken chronics. But due to this mishap, it was like a shining light from above telling me that we needed to make his ski into a LINE shot ski. So with a little tape, some plastic shot glasses, and the one of the best skis on the planet, it was on! The LINE shot ski was born...
The LINE shot ski doing what it does best
And doing it over and over
As the finals drew to an end, the party did not! After skiing (if thats what you call it) down with one very wasted banana, it was off for a little apres ski. (another European tradition) And boy, everyone was in good form. Another ski tradition is that if you spill your beer, you must drink the rest from your ski boot. That makes for a wet foot, but one hell of a laugh!
One very drunk banana trying to make swerves
Meg Olenick gets “das boot”
After it was all said and hungover, (LJ missed his flight and Jussi's whereabouts are still unknown) it was a blast and LINE surely killed it. Maybe not on the podium, but definitely in the hearts of all that was present! I am very proud of the team, and stoked to be a part of such a fun event! I would like to thank Wolfie and Korbi for all the support from LINE, all the organizers and sponsors of the event, all the athletes and fans, Sean, Ben Burnett, Rob from Unity, Lasse from Verse, and most of all... my boys, (and Marina) you guys make me proud! Thank you Laax, we will be back again next year! Make sure and check out all the results on Downdays.tv, the Orage web page (thanks Mike and Cody!), and the official European open website. Also check out what happened through the lens of Unity and Verse productions, it will make you laugh!
check the videos on Downdays.tv:
and Unity Productions Edit: