Words by Cédric Dörig

Photos by Oliver Maccabez


Back for another day. But before we dive into the second round of qualification runs, let’s take a look around the venue. The first thing you notice at Freestyle.ch is of course the massive big air structure. Right next to it is the FMX track, with a gap of about 23 meters and its mound of dirt for the landing. On the other side of the structure is the stage, where Swiss rapper Stress pumped up the crowd last night, along with the winners of the freestyle.band contest (organized in partnership with a local radio station), and Phenomden.

Next to the stage you see the massive halfpipe for the skateboarders (4.4 meters high, 16.5 meters across) and a few sponsor booths. Next to the food and beverage corner is where it gets quite interesting though. The Label World is an entire area of the Freestyle.ch dedicated to over 110 brands. And once you step in you immediately notice that the ski brands dominate the area. CoreUPT, Völkl, Nordica, Head, 4FRNT and so many more have made the trip.

Some of the brands have taken the concept further this year, installing their own private lounges on top of their booths. The Swiss Corner of the area seems to be quite animated, though the booths are small. Loads of good vibes on the speakers that scream let’s party…

But there’s no time for that right now, because we’re about to dive right into the second qualification round. Here’s who was on course today:

1) Rory Bushfield (CAN, Squamish)

2) Sammy Carlson (USA, Mount Hood)

3) Fridtjof Fredricsson (NOR, Oslo)

4) Thomas Hlawitschka (GER, Eschenlohe)

5) Benedikt Mayr (GER, München)

6) Jon Olsson (SWE, Monaco)

7) Nicolas Vuignier (SUI, Venthône)

8) Tom Wallisch (USA, Salt Lake City)

9) Jossi Wells (NZE, Wanaka)

10) Jacob Wester (SWE, Täby)

First up is Nicolas Vuignier, from Switzerland, starting off with a flat 5 japan to shifty. He’s followed by Rory Bushfield with a switch 5 critical. Fridtjof Fredericsson drops in and lands a cork 720 bow and arrow, taking the lead. Thomas Hlawitschka is up next and falls while landing a flat 540 safety tweak. He’s followed by Sammy Carlson, Benedikt Mayr and Jossi Wells with a flat 5 bow and arrow which he then dedicates to TJ while talking to Nico Zacek. Tom Wallisch is on course next and again we get to see a very smooth flat 5 bow and arrow. After Jon Olsson, Jacob Wester ends this first run of today’s qualifications with a switch cork 720 true tail. After the first run, here’s who was in the top four:

1) Jossi Wells (NZ)

2) Tom Wallisch (USA)

3) Benedikt Mayr (GER)

4) Fridtjof Fredricsson (NOR)

We go back to the top again for the second run, the technical run (remember, each riders gets three runs total; the first is judged on style, the second on technicality and the third is rider’s choice), which Nicolas Vuignier kicks off with a solid switch bio 9 japan. Rory Bushfield does a double backflip – the first one we’ve seen so far – but that doesn’t seem to impress the judges as much as the public. Fridtjof Fredricsson launches the doubles series with a double cork 1080 high mute and as you would expect, he takes the lead.

Fridtjof Fredricsson in the midst of his double cork 1080 high mute

Thomas Hlawitschka however does not follow the doubles trend and throws a tweaked switch bio 900 mute and is followed by Sammy Carlson with a double cork 1080 high mute which lands him in second place.

Sammy Carlson’s interpretation of a double cork 1080 high mute

Benedikt Mayr then attempts a double cork 1260 but falls when landing, while Jossi Wells then throws the same trick and has better luck. After Tom Wallisch, Jon Olsson shows the crowd his signature k-flip. Jacob Wester attempts a double cork 1260 mute to take first place from Tom Wallisch, but unfortunately falls when landing. Let’s take a look at the board:

1) Tom Wallisch (USA)

2) Fridtjof Fredricsson (NOR)

3) Sammy Carlson (USA)

4) Nicolas Vuignier (SUI)

And then it was time to find out once and for all who’s going to make it to the finals tomorrow and who’s going to be enjoying the rest of Freestyle.ch with a drink in his hand. After Nicolas Vuignier’s style run, Rory Bushfield does a cork 720 tail grab.

Switzerland’s Nicolas Vuignier with a massive tail grab

Fridtjof Fredricsson, also went for a style run, and is followed by Thomas Hlawitschka with a tweaked flatspin 540 safety grab which lands him in fourth place, eliminating the only Swiss guy in this qualification round. Sammy Carlson also does a style run and impresses the judges with his switch 5 safety that lands him in first place. Benedikt Mayr is the first to choose to do a technical run and drops in for a smooth double cork 1260, which was rather impressive considering he tried this trick for the first time three days ago. After Jossi Wells’ fall on his technical run, Tom Wallisch swoops in and took first place with a flat 540 judged on style, while Jon Olsson took third and Jacob Wester unfortunately fell on his last run.

Jossi Wells shows us how it’s done in the land down under

Here’s the final results:

1) Tom Wallisch (USA) - 164.50

2. Sammy Carlson (USA) - 159.75

3. Jon Olsson (SWE) - 148.25

4. Fridtjof Fredricsson (NOR) - 145.00

5. Thomas Hlawitschka (GER) - 125.25

6. Benedikt Mayr (GER) - 124.50

7. Nicolas Vuignier (SUI) - 121.00

8. Rory Bushfield (CAN) - 107.25

9. Jossi Wells (NZL) - 106.25

10. Jacob Wester (SWE) - 75.75

Jon Olsson’s k-flip

But it’s not over yet. After a little break, it’s time for the crossover session which will crown the crossover.champ. This is not a competition between freeskiers, but all the sports represented at Freestyle.ch compete against each other. The public is the sole judge of this and whoever gets the crowd most excited ends up on stage with the title of crossover.champ.

The crowd is anxious to see some action

Representing freeski, we have:

1. Fridtjof Fredricsson (NOR)

2. Tom Wallisch (USA)

3. Elias Ambühl (SUI)

4. Andreas Hatveit (NOR)

5. Sammy Carlson (USA)

6. Jon Olsson (SWE)

7. Jacob Wester (SWE)

8. TJ Schiller (CAN)

As you may notice, these are the guys who qualified for the freeski finals on Sunday, with the exception of Jacob Wester who stepped in for Laurent Favre. Now for the format: there are three runs. Each rider gets one shot at a trick that will get the crowd loud enough for him to advance to the next stage. This first run is done one sport at a time. The second run is divided in four. In each of the four parts, one rider from each sport tries to impress the public enough to get further. Only one rider per segment can go into the crossover superfinals. Once the superfinals are reached, one or two of the sports may already be eliminated and it’s every man for himself.

In the first run, we saw Tom Wallisch throw a double back flip, Elias Ambühl do a switch double cork 1080 nose grab, followed by Andreas Hatveit with the same trick. Sammy Carlson granted the public another good look at a double cork 1080, while Jon Olsson dropped in for a massive flatspin 360. Jacob Wester also pleased the crowd with a backflip while TJ Schiller threw a double cork 1080 that ended in a fall.

Jon’s flatspin 360

As since this was a showdown for the public, the riders felt there needed to be some more show. So the riders of each sport in turn took it one step further with a flurry of tricks that would make any fan of freestyle go nuts. The skiers impressed the crowd with a run in pairs, throwing cork 720’s and flatspin 360’s at the public as if there was fireworks going on. And now that the crowd was really getting warmed up, it was time for the second run.

From left to right: Elias Ambühl, Sammy Carlson and Jon Olsson…

…followed by TJ Schiller and Tom Wallisch…

…and Fridtjof Fredricsson

Sammy Carlson started off with a double cork 1080 double grab. Unfortunately, the snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov is in the public’s heart, and being Swiss may have helped here. Jacob Wester is up for the second run and grants the public a huge half-naked backflip with a newly grown moustache on his lip. However, FMX-star Dany Torres’ one-handed landing had a much bigger impact on the public.

Jacob Wester’s half-naked backflip

Up next is Elias Ambühl who attempts a huge double cork 1260 but falls when landing. This however did not prevent him to advance to the crossover superfinals.

Elias’ double cork 1260 that got him to the superfinals

Fourth and final run of these crossover finals saw Andreas Hatveit throw a massive double cork with a double mute grab. Skateboarder Sandro Dias however is a hard man to beat and he won the public’s hearts. In the end, Iouri Podladtchikov takes the grand prize thanks to huge amplitude. He can now decorate his room with a special crossover.champ belt.

Iouri Podlatchikov being carried to the stage after being announced as the winner

That’s it for today, it’s 11pm and time to move on to one of the many after-parties, chief amongst which the Raiders.ch party showing the Swiss premiere of Everyday is a Saturday by Poor Boyz Productions. But tomorrow’s another day. It’s time for the finals and the superfinals. Fridtjof Fredricsson, Laurent Favre, Elias Ambühl, Jon Olsson, Andreas Hatveit, TJ Schiller, Sammy Carlson and Tom Wallisch will be back on top of the in-run and show us what they can do. Be sure to check back for the report on the final day at Freestyle.ch and also watch out for video edits and interviews coming soon…