interview by Ethan Stone

Hey Nico, how's it going?

Hey guys, thanks, I'm fine. I'm just recovering from a bruised rib at the moment, pretty much chilling and working for my event!

Bummer, how did that happen?

We were filming at Zuers, Arlberg, built a super good backcountry hip and after we got our basic tricks done, we wanted to go crazy, but unfortunately my friend Tobi Reindl broke a vertebrae and I bruised my rib...

photo: Marcel Laemmerhirt

How's your season so far this year?

My season this year was a little different than past ones. As I organized two different events this year (Young Blood Freeski Camps/Nine Knights) I kind of avoided big trips and staying away from home for a long time, and tried to spend as much time as possible in the Alps. I just went to New Zealand early season, twice to Slovenia, and after the Nine Knights Session is over, I'll do a big Norway road trip. But if I think about it, it was a really good season, actually. Really good filming.

Slovenia huh?

Yeah, two amazing trips, a park/urban trip to Rogla ski resort and a BC trip to Vogel. Especially the support in Rogla was amazing, the had a pretty perfect park waiting for us, brought down truckloads of snow to the village, supported us with sleds, tow-ins, etc… just super friendly people in an amazing country.

photo: Pally Learmond

Tell us about Nine Knights, what's your concept and who's coming?

Nine Knights is a mixture between a shoot and a competition. The most important part is the feature, which is a combination of a modern floating jump (about 24m table) and a quarterpipe (8m high, 20 m wide) containing a channel gap. From Wednesday to Friday (April 23rd-25th), all we do is have fun at the feature and shoot it from every angle, including a sunset heli-chase session, double/triple session (the feature is designed for several riders at a time), matrix-cams, etc. The feature will be redesigned a little bit throughout the week, to keep the set-up interesting.

Saturday (April 26th) will be the official contest day. Hopefully, a lot of spectators come to the Nebehorn/Oberstdorf and riders will be sessioning the kicker, quarter and in the end compete in teams against each other - the freeski joust tournament. Afterparty starts at 20.00 at the Hoerbar in Oberstdorf.

I got a Swedish crew coming to the Nine Knights (Oscar Scherlin, Henrik Harlaut - unfortunately Jacob Wester has to attend the Whistler-MSP shoot), my French buddy Laurent Favre, Mikael Descenaux, the best British rider Paddy Graham, and the top Austrian/German riders Fabio Studer, Thomas Hlawitschka, Martin Misof and myself.

But the event is not only about the riders; I also invited four photographers who will be competing in a photo contest against each other throughout the event (Mattias Fredriksson, Klaus Polzer, Elina Sirparanta, Yarrek).

Construction on the jump is nearly complete.

How does the joust tournament go down? Real jousting?

We’ll see, haha. No, no weapons involved, but the riders are gonna compete in three different categories: Jam Session at the Jump, Jam Session at the Channel Gap of the Quarterpipe, and in the Team tournament, which is probably gonna be the most spectacular discipline. The afternoon before the contest, we will battle out three teams in the Red Bull soccer tournament. The three teams will have a couple of runs to hit the feature at the same time, and show the best possible team-appearance. We’ll see if there is a joust tournament at the bar of the afterparty, I’ll for sure let you guys know afterwards…

The quarterpipe was originally supossed to be 8 meters high, but it turned out to be 10 meters high and 26 meters wide, because of all the snow. The step up gap is 2 meters high and 25 meters long...

So, is it going to be, Candide Invite, Jon Invite, Nico Invite?

Well, it's probably too early to compare my event to Jon's & Candide’s, as this is my first year... those guys have done an incredible job throughout the last years, have had their events for a couple of seasons and have set the marks pretty high. Especially Jon's way to handle things influenced me a lot and motivated me to do something on my own. Usually, for us athletes, the rider-driven events are the most fun and also attract the most attention. It's amazing to see, how all participants and even the riders that won't attempt, love the feature/concept.

As you said, there is a big riders event in France and one in Scandinavia, and I'm happy to be the one bringing an invitational to the German-speaking countries.

For sure there is some creative ideas in the event - the feature itself, the "joust tournament"… for me it's not about doing the most unique event, I just want all my friends (riders & media) to leave Oberstdorf on April 27th and tell me that they had the best time ever and the most fun riding.

photo: Marcel Laemmerhirt

What's one thing about the ski scene in Austria and Germany that us Westerners don't know about?

AESTIVATION - I'm pretty sure not to many "westerners" know about the big movie project we've been working on all season. The AESTIVATION project is based in the German-speaking countries, but teams up with top Scando & French riders, which finally gives us a big European freeski movie. Filmers & crews have teamed up to make that happen, but i don't want to tell too much...but the Nine Knights is going to be a big shoot for the AESTIVATION project, as well.

photo: Marcel Laemmerhirt

That sounds sweet, who will be in the film?

It’s gonna be a mixture between Scandinavians, Frenchies and German-speaking riders. The Scando freeride boys Sverre Lillequist, Seb Garhammer and Jon Larsson, Julien Regnier & Richard Permin, who are currently filming with Sven Kueenle in AK, Mikael Deschenaux, Nico Zacek, Martin Misof, Henrik Harlaut, Oscar Scherlin and the German/Austrian upcoming jibbers Lukki Brucic, Thomas Hlawitschka, Tobi Reindl & Bene Mayer. We are actually planning two movies, the main one that features the top Euro guys, and a second one that mainly features riders from Germany, Austria & Switzerland.

Check out http://www.nineknights.com for more info on the Nine Knights Invitational!


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