The Red Bull Linecatcher 2010 benefited from perfect snow conditions and blue skies and created a show that made freeskiing history. The 16 riders were able to showcase their talents during the three runs of competition and provided an exceptional show to the Vars la Forêt Blanche public. The French rider Richard Permin had the difficult task of opening the final day of competition after inheriting bib number 1 at the draw the previous night. He started switch on the first kicker and set the tone for a contest with riders proposing a variety of shapes and showing stunning skills in the air. This first round was marked by the very fine runs of American CR Johnson, German Bene Mayr with three impressive jumps, and Canadian Sean Pettit with a rapid descent peppered with a cab 5 and two 360's.
The second run once again highlighted the young Canadian Sean Pettit who managed a very fluid and engaged line with huge tricks including a backflip japan, American Sage Cattabriga-Alosa with four 360’s in a very fast run, German Bene Mayr with a huge rodeo 7 and Québéquois JP Auclair with three big tricks including a trademark backflip. But this second run was particularly marked by an astonishing descent by Candide Thovex, who chained a 720, a 360 and a backflip with dazzling transfers between each jump. Unfortunately, he lost a ski returning to the finish area as one of the bindings released on a landing. The judges then began to argue concerning the degree penalty they should charge him, as his performance was undoubtedly the most impressive of the competition.
Fortunately, Candide made everyone agree on the third round by taking exactly the same line with the same velocity. Despite Sean Pettit’s new exceptional descent, including a huge 360 on a 50 foot drop, which earned him the Oakley Sick-O-Award honoring the best trick, Candide finished in first place and showed that he is back to his best after his accident in 2007.
"This is my first event since my injury and I wanted to know where I was after a year of training. When Julien Régnier Lafforgue invited me and told me who would compete, I could not refuse. I am really overwhelmed to find myself on the top of the podium, especially when you see the big guns who were present today," said Candide, all smiles after being copiously showered with champagne by his two podium companions: Canadian Sean Pettit who came second, and American CR Johnson who came third.
Sean Pettit (2nd), Candide Thovex (1st), CR Johnson (3rd)
For the young Sean Pettit, at 17 an amazing skier and early star, this competition format fulfilled all his expectations. "This event is simply awesome, Sean said. "I could not be more pleased, everyone killed it."
As for CR Johnson, returning to competition after a four year absence, the podium was a precious moment. "Today is a blessing. The vibe of the mountain and the people were truly amazing. It was a beautiful day."
Among those euphoric after the competition was local skier Mathieu 'Mati' Imbert, who offered three superb runs to his spectators. Mati, with a smile even bigger than usual, was delighted to attend the birth of a new era of freeskiing. "We managed to assemble the perfect conditions. This year, we finished erecting a new step to our discipline. Last year it was already great, but here, in Vars, at home, we really consolidated the future of our sport."
The Judges: Camille Jaccoux, Nico Zacek, Julien Régnier-Lafforgue and Tanner Hall
The usually discreet Julien Régnier Lafforgue, the event’s designer and judge along side America's Tanner Hall, Germany's Nico Zacek and France's Camille Jaccoux, could hardly conceal his satisfaction "Conditions were incredible, very high, perfect, mission accomplished!"
Candide Thovex succeeds Canadian Anthony Boronowski and adds a new victory to his prestigious track record. His performance, his interest, and the arrival of all the biggest stars of backcountry skiing illustrates the importance of this new competition format. The success of the second edition of the Red Bull Linecatcher undoubtedly celebrates, as indicated by Mathieu Imbert, the birth of a new era of freeskiing competitions.
1) Candide Thovex
2) Sean Pettit
3) CR Johnson
4) Sage Cattabriga-Alosa
5) Bene Mayr
6) JP Auclair
7) Chris Booth
8) Fabien Maierhofer
9) Mathieu Imbert
10) Richard Permin