Words by Gerti Ring

Norwegian favorite Andreas Håtveit has won the Austrian Freeski Open 2011 in Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria. Amidst excellent conditions, the 2008 X Games slopestyle champion took victory at a thrilling contest in the Snowpark Kitzsteinhorn. The 2009 Austrian Freeski Open winner, Elias Ambühl took second, while Roy Kittler from Pirna rounded out the podium in third and Patrick Hollaus from Zell am See became Austrian Champion.

Bright sunshine, clear air and no wind or clouds – it was a perfect day for the event. On a demanding slopestyle course at the Snowpark Kitzsteinhorn, the 30 semi-finalists from 11 nations had two runs to show their skills on two kickers and rails, with the 10 best riders moving onto the finals where the best of three runs counted.

Andreas Håtveit. Photo: Tom Bause

In the end, the judges crowned the Norwegian Andreas Håtveit “Man of the Day”. The 24-year-old nailed a perfect run with a 270 on pretzel out of the first rail, underflip off the Elephant Rail along with a right double cork 1260 and a sensational switch 900 mute on the jumps. With his top spot on the podium he took the biggest share of the 20,000 dollar prize-money: “I’m glad that I finally won!” Håtveit said. “I’m stoked that I could keep up with the younger riders. I only tried to keep cool. It’s definitely great to win, especially with these perfect conditions!”

Elias Ambühl. Photo: Christoph Schoech

Elias Ambühl took second with an amazing switch double cork 12 and a sick right side bio 900 reverse mute. “The course was pretty cool, great weather, it was a lot of fun!” said Ambühl. “I didn’t do the 1260 in training as I wanted to save it for the finals as a surprise.”

Roy Kittler. Photo: Christoph Schoech

Roy Kittler improved heavily from his 9th place position in semi-finals to take the last spot on the podium in third with a massive switch left 1260 mute into a right cork 900 tail grab. “Thanks to the great conditions, I was able to do everything I had wanted to do,” said Kittler.

Patrick Hollaus. Photo: Christoph Schoech

And local Patrick Hollaus took the title of Austrian Champion in front of his fellow countrymen Tommy Hupfauf and Tobi Tritscher. Hollaus, who placed 14th in the overall ranking, showed that he is back on tack again after a long period of injury.

Following the amazing contest, the official transporter of the event, FIAT Professional, took the riders to the FM4 Downdays Party at Kaprun Castle with a live performance by Cali P featuring Chiqui Dubs, where they partied all night long. The main partner of the event, Atomic, also showed their enthusiasm for the event. “The Austrian Freeski Open is growing to become the biggest open contest in Europe,” said Martin Steinbach, Marketing Manager for Atomic. We saw an international field with an extremely high level. The level of the riders and the set up at Snowpark Kitzsteinhorn is becoming better and better.” The founder and organizer of the event Martin “McFly“ Winkler also added, “The ninth edition was definitely the best one so far! I’m looking forward to next year when we will celebrate ten years of Austrian Freeski Open!”

Photo: Tom Bause

Finals Results

1) Andreas Hatveit

2) Elias Ambühl

3) Roy Kittler

4) Byron Wells

5) Ian Cosco

6) Jonas Hunziker

7) Ole Mustad

8) James Woods

9) Espen Bergh

10) Markus Eder

For more information on the event go to http://www.austrianfreeskiopen.com, and to see how this event affects the AFP rankings go to http://www.afpworldtour.com.