The Relentless Freeze Festival brought a little taste of

winter to the UK skiers last weekend. While the rest of the world is getting

scattered snow flurries, London was faking it by resurrecting, for the fifth

year running, the scaffolding and importing the world’s best skiers to dazzle

English crowds with a taste of what could be. Hundreds came to watch, dozens to

help and a handful to impress. Freeze was on.

Paddy Graham takes first in the Battle of Britain

Rain, wind, heavy clouds, and gratuitous amounts of alcohol,

London was ready. The riders? Not so much… Concerns about the jump overshadowed

the tricks to come and nerves set it. When asked before the competition, Henrik

Harlaut was quick to dismiss rumors of his recently defining trick, the nose butter

double cork, but ended the quick interview with a reminder and foreshadowing of

the bravado to come. He simply reassured me that the flat lip, short landing

and high winds stand no chance against the momentum of the riders’ ability once

things get heated. Oh, and how right he was…

Rain welcomes the riders to London

The semi-finals saw head-to-head battles between the greats

of the ski industry that I couldn’t have dreamt of. Henrik’s predictions came

true as his first offering to the crowd was a massive nose butter double cork

10 trumping Elias Ambuehl only to be bettered by his own nose butter double

cork 12 in the next round. Vincent Gagnier threw down arguably the craziest

trick of the night, a double cork 12 with a double genie grab to knock out

Jossi Wells and secure himself a spot in the finals.

In all, the semi-finals went like

this:

Henrik beats Elias with a nose butter double cork 12

Vincent beats Jossi with a double cork 12 double genie grab

Gus beats McRae with a double rodeo 9 japan

Mikkel beats Bene with a double cork 10 mute

Kai beats Paddy

Henrik boosts over the London skyline

So the scene was set for the finals. Vincent Gagnier would

drop in first followed by Henrik Harlaut, Mikkel Jøraandstad, Kai Mahler and

Gus Kenworthy. Each would get three runs but only two counted. One would be

judged by style and the other technical. The stage was set and the finals went

like this:

1st Henrik Harlaut Jump

1: Cork 9 tail (fall)

Jump 2: Nose

butter double cork 10

Jump 3: Cork

9 tail

Score: 179.00

2nd Gus Kenworthy Jump

1: Switch cork 5 genie grab

Jump

2: Switch double 9 japan

Jump

3: Switch double 10 tail

Score: 175.00

3rd Kai Mahler Jump

1: Rodeo 5 (fall)

Jump

2: Double 10 mute

Jump

3: Switch cork 5 genie grab

Score: 148.00

4th Mikkel Jøraandstad Jump

1: Cork 5 tail

Jump

2: Double 10 mute

Jump

3: Double 10 double mute

Score: 136.00

5th Vincent Gagnier Jump

1: Rodeo 5 genie grab

Jump

2: Rodeo 9 double genie grab (fall)

Jump

3: 12 double genie grab (fall)

Score: 115.00

Henrik puts down an 88 on his style hit

Henrik’s nose butter doubles remain unbeatable and left him

5,000 Pounds richer. Satisfied and exhausted, the riders and crowd left the

ramp to party the night away to DJ Shadow and Grandmaster Flash, but there was

more to come in the style competition the next day.

Henrik takes first, Gus second and Kai third. Gus... Haha

This was Gus’s redemption. With a flawless switch cork 5

genie grab, Gus Kenworthy trumped Henrik Harlaut and McRae Williams to walk

away with a… surfboard.

McRae styles out a trucker 5

Gus warms up to take the style competition

Public Enemy rounded out the night with a concert like I’ve

never seen before and Freeze was over. Riders went home with mixed emotions,

but the crowd couldn’t be more satisfied. If you were not there this year, you

owe it to yourself to come next year for what is sure to be yet another

unforgettable Relentless Freeze Festival!


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