Cover Photo: Elias flying high above the castle. Credit: David Malacrida
Audi Nines wrapped up on Saturday in Sölden, Austria. A pretty relaxed format made for an eventful contest, there were plenty of highs, a particularly nasty injury, and an incredible guest appearance. You can see the best of the action in this highlight reel:
The big air contests were dominated by the Scandinavians. Norwegian Johanne Killi took the win in women’s skiing. Her highlights were a cork 900 tail grab and a switch 540 nose grab.
Killi on her way to the top of the podium. Credit: Klaus Polzer
Women's ski podium Credit: David Malacrida
The men’s champion was the “Become a Nine ‘19” winner Elias Syrjä, although he took an unusual route into the event, the Finn is by no means a rookie and this showed in his skiing. That’s why it didn’t raise too many eyebrows when he took first place. He showed his class with a triple cork 1260 safety, a switch triple 1260 screamin' seamen and a switch double cork 900 nose grab, which holding the grab through the landing.
Men's ski podium, Birk Ruud, Elias Syrjä (Winner) and Fabian Bösch. Credit: David Malacrida
Elias said that being on the podium at the Audi Nines "feels so great, especially since I got invited as a part of the video contest. To actually win after that feels unreal. The most special thing for me at the Audi Nines is that I’ve been watching the videos from here for my whole life, so now to actually be here is amazing.”
17-year-old Kiwi, Nico Porteus won the Best trick, on the quarter pipe to banked landing, with an alley-oop double flat spin 1080 Japan.
The highlight, for many, was the surprise appearance by none other than Candide Thovex. The legendary Frenchman stopped by on contest day and proved that, even at 36, he’s definitely still got it. I watched all the action from the top of the course and I think the biggest cheer, from the competitors, was when Candide decided to do a zero spin, perhaps that was what we all needed after the madness of the previous days…
Not great footage, shot on my phone, but you can see the reaction from everyone at the top when the legend drops
The week-long event is about so much more than just a contest, the main aim of Nines is to help the progression of skiing and snowboard. Love or hate the way park skiing is progressing, there’s no doubt that there were plenty of firsts.
One of the biggest talking points happened on the first day, with David Wise’s controversial world record. No doubt about him launching, a massive, 11.7metres (38 feet, 4 inches) above a quarterpipe, but which record he broke is up for debate, because when he finally returned to earth, he did so on a banked landing, next to the quarterpipe. He tells us what he thinks about the event, in this article. Whether that broke Simon Dumont’s record or not, that definitely got people talking about the event.
With the crazy features, like a 10-meter high “launchpad” to a 32-meter gap, injuries were sadly, almost, inevitable. Even though many of the riders commented echoed these comments from Syrjä:
“The park was so good. Everything was so big but still so safe. you could go big and still without impact. the guys did a great job, for sure.”
But you can't account for freak accidents. South African snowboarder, Anthon Bosch, was extremely lucky to avoid serious injury after this…
That was closely followed by David Wise fracturing his femur on the quarterpipe. David had surgery that night and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Saturday night --at the gala dinner-- the rider-judged awards were handed out. Lukas Müllauer and Tess Ledeux were crowned "Rulers of the week", with Johanne Killi and Ferdinand Dahl snagging the "Best Style" awards.
What entails 'progression' is certainly a matter of opinion but it was a heavy week at Nines. Andri Ragettli’s quad-cork 1980 caused quite a bit of excitement. The first man ever to land that trick, Fabian Boesch, landed another first with a triple misty 1620. You can debate style over substance, but there’s no question that Audi Nines did what it set out to do. The crazy features enabled skiers to push the boundaries of what’s physically possible.