The weather has been playing mind tricks on everyone at the Suzuki Nine Knights, with beautiful sunny weather turning to windy flat light within minutes. The Knights have kept their cool however, and have been performing exceptionally at every opportunity when the weather cleared at Mottolino Fun Mountain. Every single feature was sessioned on Tuesday and the athletes were beyond stoked about the best session yet on the unique obstacles.
Benoit Valentin. Photo by Klaus Polzer
First up was an awesome session on the main feature, the 27-meter kicker in the middle of the impressive “Il Castello”. A big stand out was Marker Völkl athlete Russ Henshaw, who threw everything from styled out cork 540 blunt grabs to a double cork 1080 double japan grab – the first time he has tried that trick!
Russ Henshaw. Photo by Klaus Polzer
The pretzel man Tom Wallisch used the opportune weather window to man up and be the first person to hit the gigantic hip. Everyone’s heart was in their throats as Tom proceeded to soar almost 10 meters above the take-off!
Tom Wallisch. Photo by Flo Breitenberger
At that point, the session was well and truly on, as event organizer Nico Zacek and many others joined the hip session sending airs higher than anyone thought possible.
Nico Zacek. Photo by Flo Breitenberger
Then things got even crazier with four people hitting “Il Castello” at once, one on the hip, two on the quarterpipes and one on the kicker jump! There was an electric vibe amongst the athletes, who were beyond stoked on the first decent session.
Tom Wallisch, Nico Zacek, Colby James West and Kai Mahler. Photo by Klaus Polzer
The weather then turned to disagreeable windy flat light and the Knights decided to have a break and wait for better conditions. At lunch they were joined by Gus Kenworthy and Jossi Wells, the final Knights come to storm the castle. Both were itching to check out the feature and headed up even in the adverse conditions. They proceeded to have a little jib session of their own, searching for new creative ways to hit the rails. Soon everyone else joined them and decided to try out the canon rail to hip landing. Smith athlete Gus Kenworthy ruled the afternoon with some smooth 450 blunt grabs out of the rail. Hopes for a sunset photo shoot were then extinguished when clouds covered the valley and the wind picked up even more. A group decision was made to call it a day, as everybody was very happy with the day’s results already.
Russ Henshaw & Bene Mayr. Photo by Flo Breitenberger
On Wednesday morning Mottolino was covered by 20 centimeters of new snow, with big flakes still falling. The weather report predicted for this to continue all day, so the athletes and photographers went to shoot lifestyle images throughout town. After that it was time to hold the annual Suzuki Nine Knights football tournament. Six teams of seven players faced off against each other in the indoor sports hall of Livigno, sporting flash football shirts from Red Bull Salzburg. All the athletes put in a stellar performance but at the end of the day it was the Schneestern shaper team that took home the win. The weather report was very promising for Thursday, so heli-shooting on the Castle was put on the agenda. The heli session has always been a big highlight at the event and this year’s Suzuki Nine Knights is sure to be no exception. Thus the tension is steadily building up before Saturday’s public Big Air competition, where the general public will have the chance to witness mind-blowing action from the world’s best freestyle skiers on the unique jump. Everyone who would like to see the event live should be at Mottolino, Livigno on Saturday morning at 10:00am, the massive “Il Castello” cannot be missed. Then on Saturday evening the 2012 Suzuki Nine Knights will conclude in style at Miky’s Bar in Livigno with the official after party powered by Sweet Protection and downdays.eu!
For more information on Nine Knights, check out http://www.nineknights.com!