The highly anticipated Big Air competition of the Suzuki Nine Knights went down on Saturday at Mottolino Fun Mountain in Livigno, Italy, with a throng of roaring spectators there to witness the spectacle. Many of the world’s best freeskiers turned up to the Italian resort to session the immaculate castle shaped to perfection by the dedicated Schneestern crew. The invited Knights had plenty of time to practice on the multi-feature “Il Castello”, with sunrise, sunset and even night shoots going down during the week. On Friday seven extra guys arrived to practice on the jump for Saturday's AFP Gold Level big air competition.
Photos by Florian Breitenberger
Once the event began, the visibility and speed were a little bit difficult to deal with for the riders, as the snow was very sticky and the light was flat for most of the day. However the 18 riders still pushed themselves as hard as possible during qualifiers. Only eight riders would move on to finals, so the spots were highly contested with multiple different trick variations being put down on the large jump. After a short lunch break, all of the finalists had five jumps on the kicker to show the judges their best two different tricks, with their combined points determining the overall score.
Colby James West. Photo by Florian Breitenberger
Raffa Cusini. Photo by Klaus Polzer
All the riders performed exceptionally well in the difficult flat light conditions, however in the end it was the Swiss youngster Kai Mahler who took home the win with a super steezed out double cork 1260 double japan shifty and a double 1080 mute grab, tweaked to the max. “Competing against such a high caliber made me really step it up,” said Kai. “I am so stoked to have won here today at the Nine Knights Big Air!” In second place was American dominator Gus Kenworthy, with a textbook switch double rodeo 1080 japan grab and a double cork 1440 blunt grab. Jonas Hunziker, also from Switzerland, rounded out the podium in third with a double cork 1080 double mute grab and a double cork 1260 safety grab.
Gus Kenworthy. Photo by Klaus Polzer
1) Kai Mahler (Double 1080 Mute, Double 1260 Dub Japan Shifty)
2) Gus Kenworthy (Switch Double Rodeo 1080 Japan, Double 1440 Blunt)
3) Jonas Hunziker (Double 1080 Dub Mute, Double 1260 Safety)
4) Russ Henshaw (Double 1080 Japan, Switch Double 1080 Japan)
5) Roy Kittler (Switch Double Wobble 9 Mute, Bio 1440 Blunt)
6) Ben Valentin (Double 1260 Tail, Double 1080 Safety)
7) Christian Bieri (Double Flatspin 900 Japan to Tail, Cork 7 Reverse Mute)
8) Colby West (Double 1080, Switch Misty 900 Mute)
Nico Zacek & Kai Mahler. Photo by Klaus Polzer
The atmosphere and the scenery on the mountain was truly spectacular during the thrilling Suzuki Nine Knights Big Air competition and it was a perfect ending to the fantastic Suzuki Nine Knights at Mottolino Fun Mountain. The event concluded on Saturday night with the photographers’ and riders’ awards presentation and a raging party in Livigno. Stay tuned for a look at what went down at the awards along with a full wrap-up on the event, and congratulations to all the competitors. We can’t wait to see you all again next year!
For more information on Nine Knights, check out http://www.nineknights.com.