Words: Jeff Schmuck

Photos: John Vandervalk

The fifth annual European Open is officially underway in the breathtakingly picturesque town of Laax, Switzerland.

On today's agenda, men's and women's superpipe qualifiers. As the stampede of competitors from all corners of the globe and every nook and cranny of Europe ascended towards the stunt ditch this morning, a thick and not-so-warm blanket of fog hid the usual awe-inspiring sight of the majestic Swiss Alps, and at times, the beautifully crafted 22-foot pipe.

As a result, most of today was spent waiting on course holds due to the lackluster visibility, but when it came time for the sun to briefly shine, so did the young and hungry competitors, who were vying for one of the 33 spots in Saturday's semi-finals and finals where the boys will meet pre-qualified athletes Xavier Bertoni, Kevin Rolland, Jossi Wells, Simon Dumont, Mike Riddle, Matt Margetts and so on, while the ladies will square off against Sarah Burke, Jen Hudak, Rosalind Groenewoud and others.

Open format contests are always interesting to watch, as a list of who's who are pitted against the who's that, and the probability of emerging stars becomes that much more feasible in such an environment. Today was no exception at times, as many of the usual suspects were emptying roughly half of their expected but always exciting bag of tricks, while some of the more relative unknowns were turning heads quicker than the weather changed.

Tyler Peterson

In heat one, names that may ring a bell like Byron Wells, Gus Kenworthy and the always smiling Tyler Peterson were treating the pipe like a classroom that they were the professors of, while those a bit lower down on the sponsor food chain like Great Britain's James Machon and Murray Buchan and France's Jeremy Colleta and Mathieu Bijasson were proving they could hang with the national TV guys.

Canadians Rob Heule and the increasingly impressive Noah Bowman skied their red and white hearts out today as well, continuing to prove that Canadian winter athletes really are all that, following their country's stellar and record breaking performance at that big sporting goods event that just wrapped up in Vancouver.

Noah Bowman

And speaking of proud Canucks, just prior to the proceedings going in the haze before heat two could commence, it became evident that today belonged to Justin Dorey, who for some reason wasn't pre-qualified to finals, which left everyone from here to Vienna scratching their heads in confusion...not that it mattered in the end, as J-Bone easily laid claim to the highest score of the day with an 85.67.

Justin Dorey

Heat two was jam packed full of Euro meat and potatoes, including Switzerland's very own David Ortlieb, France's Victor Berard, and his prolific countryman Loic Collomb-Patton, who is no stranger to the scene by any means, and showed off the longevity of his career by placing second. Just ahead of him was the always threatening but never mean Walter Wood, who stomped his way into first with a score of 78.00.

Matt Duhamel

In third was Brian Kish, who was skiing like Alexander The Great (if big Alex wasn't too busy conquering the globe and bedding women and actually skied that is), and a touch further down the list, the multi-talented Joss Christensen, who has been coming into his own and then some recently in the pipe, and will surely be a force to be reckoned with as the years go on.

Joss Christensen

Chivalry was lacking later in the day, as opposed to 'ladies first', the lovely women of skiing closed out the proceedings with their singular heat, which was unfortunately a bit on the rushed side of things due to all the weather delays.

Prevailing as usual was Anais Caradeux, who was followed by Belgium's Katrien Aerts in second, while the Canadian girls held it down just as hard as the boys with Megan Gunning, Dania Assaly and Keltie Hansen in third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Anais Caradeux

The wonderful Amy Sheehan, who's brother Lyndon unfortunately fell victim to the ACL eating monster during X Games training (get well soon bro!), took the bubble spot with some smooth runs to score herself a spot on Saturday.

Amy Sheehan

Superpipe Qualifers Results

Men's Heat 1

1) Justin Dorey

2) Noah Bowman

3) Gus Kenworthy

4) Rob Heule

5) Byron Wells

6) Jacmes Machon

7) Tyler Peterson

8) Jeremy Colletta

9) Methieu Bijasson

10) Murray Buchan

11) Jonathan Bertoni

12) Sämi Ortlieb

13) Nicolas Elshout

14) Marco del Ponte

15) Kris Atkinson

16) Peter Speight

cut-off

17) Joe Hides

18) Finn Lundström

19) Victor Prieux

20) Triantafyllos Triantafyllou

21) Bastien Chillotti

22) Stephen Jeffries

23) Steven Vittoz

Men's Heat 2

1) Walter Wood

2) Loic Collomb-Patton

3) Brian Kish

4) David Ortlieb

5) Joss Christensen

6) Victor Berard

7) Matt Duhamel

8) Evan Schwartz

9) Matri Räty

10) Nicolas Bijasson

11) Anthony Laudicina

12) Fabian Meyer

13) Frederick Iliano

14) Paul-Eric Faure

15) Timo De Bondt

16) Konstantinos Lyketsos

cut-off

17) Baptiste Montmayeur

18) Gael Sonnerat

19) Joffrey Pollet-Villard

20) Cole Melin

Women's

1) Anais Caradeux

2) Katrien Aerts

3) Megan Gunning

4) Dania Assaly

5) Keltie Hansen

6) Amy Sheehan

cut-off

7) Katia Griffiths

8) Arianna Tricomin

9) Serena Woods

10) Sarah Pinton

11) Aida Aleix

12) Mégane Collomb

13) Andrea Beerli

14) Claudia Neuweiler

15) Emma Hogland

16) Ombéline Maupouet

Stay tuned for more from European Open in Laax Switzerland, which continues tomorrow with men's and women's slopestyle semi-finals and finals following yesterday's qualifers, which due to post-Olympic travel nightmares we were unable to attend. However according to the illustrious Park Min Kee, the course is boss (as always at this event) and the boys and girls are primed and ready for a throw down. Here's who's going to be facing off against pre-qualified killers Tom Wallisch, Jossi Wells, Elias Ambhul, JF Houle and many more, along with Kaya Turski, Anna Segal, four-time European Open champion Virginie Faivre and others on the ladies' side of things.

Slopestyle Qualifers Results

Men's Heat 1

1) Gus Kenworthy

2) Byron Wells

3) Antti Ollila

4) Jussi Mononen

5) Brian Kish

6) Andri Ambuhl

7) Espen Bergh

8) Janne Van Enckevort

Men's Heat 2

1) Markus Eder

2) Joss Christensen

3) Aleksander Aural

4) Julien Lange

5) Jonas Hunziker

6) Mike Riddle

7) Matt Walker

8) Ian Cosco

Men's Heat 3

1) Alex Schlopy

2) McRae Williams

3) Chase Crane

4) Samuel Favret

5) Banks Gilberti

6) James Woods

7) Giullame Sbrava

8) Jöel Mooser

Men's Heat 4

1) Pekka Hyysalo

2) Tim McChesney

3) Smon Ericcson

4) Roy Kittler

5) Kim Boberg

6) Mtt Duhamel

7) Max Smith

8) Fridtjof Fredricsson

Last Chance Qualifier - Oscar Harlaut

Women's

1) Emma Dahlstrom

2) Ashley Battersby

3) Katie Summerhayes

4) Lena Stoffel

5) Maria Begge

6) Rosalind Groenewoud

7) Silvia Bertagna

8) Kim Lamarre


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