Words by Cédric Dörig (http://www.echosphere.ch / http://www.washawproductions.com)

Photos by Oliver Maccabez, Cédric Dörig, Michaela Ruoss, Freestyle.ch

Hello and welcome to the Freestyle.ch! As said, it is the biggest Freestyle competition in Europe and they’ve actually promised us a bigger kick as well as a bigger skateboard ramp…

The competition starts in a few hours and already, we’ve been hard at work preparing ourselves to give you as big a piece of the action as we possibly can. There will be interviews, there will be a video edit and there will be pictures and articles. We strongly advise you to watch Freecaster.tv, as this competition promises to be huge.

For those not so much acquainted with the competition here’s a short overview. The Freestyle.ch is not only a freestyle skiing competition, but is actually combining four different sports :

Freestyle skiing,

Snowboard,

Skateboard, and

FMX.

There are three titles to be won at this event. The first, freestyle.champ is awarded in each sport for the best athletes and will be decided on by a judging team. The second title, crossover.champ is awarded to the best athlete overall and the third title, frestyle.newcomer will reward the best newcomer in each sport as decided by the judges. The athlete achieving the biggest response from the public is the one who will be crowned crossover.champ. Last year Simon Dumont was able to charm the crowd with a frontflip to superman and was awarded this title. This year, the Freestyle.ch promises more air with an end run 8 meters higher.

Comparing last year’s structure with this year’s (image courtesy of Freestyle.ch)

Here is the starting list of this year’s comp :

Andri Ambühl, Switzerland

Elias Ambühl, Switzerland

*Aleksander Aurdal, Norway

Anders Backe, Norway

*Xavier Bertoni, France

Philip Casabon, Canada

Michael Clarke, USA

Laurent Favre, France

Paddy Graham, UK

Andreas Hatveit, Norway

Russel Henshaw, Australia

Thomas Hlawitschka, Germany

Patrick Hollaus, Austria

JF Houle, Canada

PK Hunter, Norway

*AJ Kemppainen, Finland

Gus Kenworthy, USA

*Roy Kittler, Germany

Thomas Kobel, Switzerland

Martin Misof, Austria

Tucker Perkins, USA

Richard Permin, France

Oscar Scherlin, Sweden

Nicolas Vuignier, Switzerland

Jossi Wells, New Zealand

Colby West, USA

Simon Dumont, USA

*Newcomers

It is to be noted that, though he will be present, Jon Olsson will not be competing here, since he had to have his meniscus operated on due to his training in race skiing with Bode Miller and Didier Cuche earlier this year. We are happy to report that the operation went very well.

Preparing the snow for the big air (photo by Michaela Ruoss)

There are two sets of qualifications with 14 riders competing in each of them. In today’s event, four of the following riders will get their ticket to the finals on Sunday :

Aleksander Aurdal

Michael Clarke

Laurent Favre

Patrick Hollaus

PK Hunter

Gus Kenworthy

Roy Kittler

Tucker Perkins

Richard Permin

Oscar Scherlin

Nicolas Vuignier

Jossi Wells

Simon Dumont

Tomorrow it will be the other’s turn to compete for a spot in the finals. The starting list for Saturday :

Andri Ambühl

Elias Ambühl

Anders Backe

Xavier Bertoni

Philip Casabon

Paddy Graham

Andreas Hatveit

Russel Henshaw

Thomas Hlawitschka

JF Houle

AJ Kemppainen

Thomas Kobel

Martin Misof

Colby West

After the qualifications, there will be eight riders fortunate enough to be able to participate in the finals on Sunday. Starting for the crossover.champ title on Saturday will be the first two riders from each of the qualification rounds.

And now a few words about the judging. There are 3 runs per athlete. The first run is rated on style, the second on technical and the third is either category, chosen by the rider before the run. The end result is based on the best style and the best technical run. A maximum of 100 points can be attained for each run.

The final is a session of 40 minutes, with the best style and the best technical run counting for the end result and again 100 points maxi for each run. The four best riders then move on to the superfinals held on Sunday afternoon. Each rider has two runs, the best run counts and there are no categories.

And finally, a word about the categories 'style' and 'technical'. This is mostly achieved by weighing the criteria differently. Technical emphasizes a trick’s level of difficulty while disregarding style entirely. Each judge takes all the cirteria into consideration in order to judge a run. The criteria for the technical category are :

Performance (takeoff, maneuver control, landing). The judges are looking for a neat performance, neat grabs (if there are any) and neat landings.

Trick difficulty. The following have an impact on this criterion : number of rotations, type of rotation, direction of rotation, grab, switch/regular, etc.

Amplitude. The height and amplitude of the jumps.

Progression. New tricks, new rotations, new combinations.

The criteria for the style category are :

Style.

Performance (takeoff, maneuver control, landing). Neat performance, neat grabs (if there are any) and neat landings.

Amplitude. The height and amplitude of the jumps.

Progression. New or rarely seen grabs and style variations.

Trick difficulty. The following have an impact on this criterion : grabs, bones, tweaks and landing (all not judged by the technical difficulty).

This year’s big air structure. On the left, the skating ramp (image by Michaela Ruoss)

So, en route to the big event… First impression: massive! The kicker looks like it’s going to deliver huge amounts of air. And another thing : where last year there was a continuous table going from the kicker to the landing, now there’s a gap…

This year’s kicker: impressive!

The brand village has gotten bigger (at least for some of the brands) but some of those that were around last year didn’t make it this time… Two hours after the doors opened, we were ready and so were the riders.

The kicker delivered on its promise for more air. The landing looks like it’s hard, too. The slope is steep and more than one rider has covered the crowd in snow while stopping. One of them even landed in the barriers, massively reducing some photographers’ breathing room.

All in all, we can now confirm : more air = higher quality of tricks. There were 1260s, kangaroo flips, double corks and so on and so forth. In the end, of the fourteen riders starting today, only four will participate in the final on Sunday. Here’s the result:

PK Hunter, 177 points

Jacob Wester, 171.5 points

Simon Dumont, 171 points

Aleksander Aurdal, 169 points

Oscar Scherlin, 167 points

Laurent Favre, 146.25 points

Nicolas Vuignier, 143.75 points

Patrick Hollaus, 139.75 points

Michael Clarke, 139 points

Richard Permin, 128.5 points

Roy Kittler, 127 points

Tucker Perkins, 98 points

Gus Kenworthy, 41.25 points

Jossi Wells was not to be seen tonight.

Richard Permin with his new CoreUPT skis

The first part of the qualifying rounds was commented by one Nico Zacek who was riding the very same competition last year. He was obviously enjoying himself and awaiting the results as eagerly as the guy who just got down. The crowd was also eager to see what each of the riders would do, cheering each one of them on more than the previous, with special attention to Simon Dumont and the Swiss guy, Nicolas Vuignier.

Simon showing what he can do

Nicolas Vuignier gave us an interview

Immediately after the freeski qualifications, the crowd was treated to a spot of music with a live concert of Goldfinger, followed by the snowboard qualifications.

Here are the results from the other sports:

FMX:

Mathieu Rebeaud, Switzerland

Thomas Pagès, France

Jeremy Rouanet, France

William Van der Putte, Belgium

The first three are qualified for the finals on Sunday.

Skateboard:

Sandro Dias, Brasil

Adam Taylor, USA

Elliot Sloan, USA

Jean Postec, France

Terence Bougdour, France

Cristiano Mateus, Brasil

The first three are qualified for the finals on Sunday

Snowboard :

Peetu Piiroinen, Finland

Stefan Gimpl, Austria

Elias Elhardt, Germany

Reto Kestenholz, Switzerland

Chris Sörman, Sweden

Eero Ettala, Finland

Andreas Gidlund, Sweden

Marko Grilc, Slovakia

Arthur Longo, France

Andreas Wiig, Norway

Iouri Podladtchikov, Switzerland

Mikkel Bang, David Benedek and Lei Wang did not start. The first four are qualified for the finals on Sunday.

Now that the first day is over and we’ve seen what can be done on the huge kicker, we are eagerly awaiting the finals and superfinals on Sunday but will definitely not miss the second part of the qualifications tomorrow. Be sure to check http://www.echosphere.ch and http://www.washawproductions.com for more pictures and video coming next week!

qualification friday, freestyle.ch 2008 from ohaaP on Vimeo. 


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