For years, the U.S. Open in Colorado has been regarded as one of the best opportunities for an up-and-coming skier to turn a part-time passion into a full-time job. The list of previously unknown U.S. Open performers reads like a Who’s who of some of the best park skiers in the world—Philou Poirer, Derek Spong, Andy Woods, TJ Schiller, blah, blah, blah. The only problem is that about half of the world’s Tanner Hall hopefuls—the ones representing France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Great Britain, Norway, Poland, Italy... get the picture?—had to fly for most of a day in order to even get there.But now even the U.S. Open itself has a fresh-faced punk to contend with. Last year’s inaugural European Open, staged by Orage in Laax, Switzerland, with its offer of thousands of dollars of prize money and the prospect of international recognition, lured a pack of hungry jibbers to Laax, where one of the best terrain parks in Europe served up a picture-perfect slopestyle course (complete with a jib-able train car) and a giant halfpipe. (Check these links to see our coverage of the qualifying, slopestyle and halfpipe comps.) Simon Dumont and Candide Thovex ended up the victors, but an army of talented skiers gave them a run for the money. Needless to say, the first Orage European Open went off so well that you’ve probably already guessed the point of this article: The European Open is back for another season!Returning to Laax on March 21 through the 25th, 2007, the European Open will once again pit 30 invited pros against about 200 hopefuls looking to turn skiing’s collective head and get a little green in the process (how’s $50,000 USD in prize money sound?).Keep checking Newschoolers.com for more info on the event and on registration, and mark your calendars. You can find more information, and some dope pics and videos of the Orage team, at Orageski.com, and info on last year’s event at laax.com/freeskiopen.
photo: cko
photo: cko
photo: cko

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