Words & photos by Jeff Schmuck

Hello again from Laax, Switzerland, where the second day of the sixth annual European Open just wrapped up with men's superpipe qualifiers.

Following some truly marvelous weather during yesterday's slopestyle qualifiers, the sun god once again smiled down upon the jagged glaciers and rolling green hills of Switzerland, although a significant amount of cloud cover did roll in and out throughout the day, but it wasn't enough to phase the talented congregation of up and coming pipe skiers from all corners of the globe.

In contrast to yesterday's mammoth-sized start list, only 54 names were on the docket today, which was broken down to into two heats and the same format as yesterday (two runs each, best run counts), with the top 10 from each heat automatically moving on to Saturday's semi-finals along with the next 12 highest scores overall.

The pipe itself clocks in at 20 feet high, a couple of Subway sandwiches shorter than the likes of the X Games and Dew Tour monstrosities, but following a few tranny adjustments that were suggested by the athletes during training, virtually all of the skiers here in Laax have given it the proverbial thumbs up.

Moving onto Saturday's semis from Heat 1 were Benoit Valentin, who fresh off his head turning performance at the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour dominated the first heat with a highly technical run that included a first hit double flair, flat 3, switch 7 and right 9, while Noah Bowman of Canada was hot on his heel pieces in second with back-to-back 7's and 5's and a cork 9 tail.

Benoit Valentin

Noah Bowman

Taking third was France's Joffrey Pollet-Villard with two 5's, 7's and a 9, while the lone American in the heat, Christian Allen, put down a switch 7 along with a cork 9 and 10 to fly the red, white and blue in fourth.

Joffrey Pollet-Villard

Christian Allen

Bowman's fellow Canuck and Fubar loving partner in crime Rob Heule took fifth with easily the most creative and stylish run and attire of the day in his vintage Calgary Flames jersey, while Switzerland's Jonas Hunziker showed his versatility by skiing as impressively in the pipe as he did on the slope course yesterday to snag sixth.

Rob Heule

Jonas Hunziker

And speaking of pulling double duty, in seventh was Joss Christensen, who linked together a flat 3 to switch 5 to switch 7, while a trio of hot to trot Europeans, Switzerland's Yannic Lerjen, France's Nicolas Bijasson and Finland's Lauri Kivario, rounded out the top 10 in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively and respectably.

Joss Christensen

Yannic Lerjen

Heat 2 was scheduled to consist of 27 riders, but 10 of them didn't show up or dropped out for unknown reasons, leaving a much thinner playing field that was absolutely dominated by David Wise. Wise, who for some odd reason had to qualify, easily did so by securing the top spot in the heat by almost eight points with a flair, flat 3 high mute, switch 7 tail and three 9's.

David Wise

Taking second was yet another Swiss resident, Kai Mahler, who had one of the coolest tricks of the day with a flatspin 5 blunt that had the judges and pre-qualified rider Matt Margetts hollering in approval, while his fellow countrymen Joel Gisler, David Ortlieb and Cyrill Hunziker obtained the third, fourth and fifth place positions.

Kai Mahler

David Ortlieb

In sixth was Kalle Hilden with some squeaky clean style all the way down the pipe, while Antoine Blachi and Rob Machon uncorked some 9's and switch hits to take seventh and eighth.

And rounding out the top 10 in the second heat was the United Kingdom's Charlie Richards, who put it all together on his second round with back-to-back flairs and an alley-oop 5, and Victor Prieux, who threw a couple of clean 5's to sneak onto the right side of the bubble for the last top 10 spot of the day.

Charlie Richards

Also on their way to semi-finals after earning the next 12 highest scores overall are Frederick Iliano, César Fabre, Thomas Zubiria, Sämi Ortlieb, Muray Buchan, Peter Speight, Gian Ragettli, Tom Damiani, Jeremy Morris, Lucas Mangold, Teo Cattaneo and Paul-Eric Faure, who will surely be giving it their all in an effort to further themselves down the competition line as they gun for a spot in finals.

The aforementioned 32 gentlemen will now look to Saturday, when the sixth annual European Open culminates with men's and women's superpipe semi-finals and finals, where they'll square off against pre-qualified athletes Jossi and Byron Wells, Matt Margetts, Thomas Krief, Benoit Valentin, Taylor Seaton and Nils Lauper.

Pre-qualified athletes Thomas Krief and Matt Margetts showing off their best dragon faces.

In the meantime, stay tuned to Newschoolers for more daily coverage on European Open, which continues tomorrow with men's and women's slopestyle semi-finals and finals.


Heat 1

1) Benoit Valentin - 84.33

2) Noah Bowman - 81.17

3) Joffrey Pollet-Villard - 79.50

4) Christian Allen - 78.67

5) Rob Heule - 78.17

6) Jonas Hunziker - 75.67

7) Joss Christensen - 75.50

8) Yannic Lerjen - 72.00

9) Nicolas Bijasson - 69.17

10) Lauri Kivari - 64.17

11) Frederick Iliano - 63.33

12) César Fabre - 63.00

13) Thomas Zubiria - 62.83

14) Sämi Ortlieb - 56.83

15) Muray Buchan - 54.67

16) Peter Speight - 52.33

17) Gian Ragettli - 50.50

18) Tom Damiani - 49.50

19) Jeremy Morris - 48.00


20) Bastien Dupont - 42.17

21) Edward Salisbury - 41.33

22) Adrien Exertier - 39.17

23) Tyler Harding - 25.00

24) Jonathan Bertoni - 24.50

25) Baptiste Montmayeur - 15.17

Pablo Belmonte - DNS

Niklas Eriksson - DNS

Heat 2

1) David Wise - 87.17

2) Kai Mahler - 79.83

3) Joel Gisler - 73.67

4) David Ortlieb - 67.17

5) Cyrill Hunziker - 66.33

6) Kalle Hilden - 57.50

7) Antoine Blanchi - 54.00

8) Rob Machon - 51.50

9) Charlie Richards - 51.00

10) Victor Prieux - 49.83

11) Lucas Mangold - 45.67

12) Teo Cattaneo - 45.50

13) Paul-Eric Faure - 42.33


14) Oscar Bouldoires - 42.00

15) Manuel Manca - 38.67

16) Johan Collomb-Clerc - 24.33

17) Bastien Chillotti - 17.50

Tobi Mangold - DNS

Lyndon Sheehan - DNS

Jon Anders Lindstad - DNS

Dylan Guillaud Magnin - DNS

Charlie Lasser - DNS

Amadé Biner -DNS

Anthony Laudicina - DNS

Nicolas Vuignier - DNS

Sandro Cola - DNS

Matti Räty - DNS