Words: John Spelman; Photos: John Spelman & Felix Frey The past weekend saw a warm up for the season with the annual freestyle.ch event in Zurich, Switzerland, where some of the top guys battled it out at an In-City big air contest. In attendance were Jon Olsson, TJ Schiller, Simon Dumont, Andreas Håtveit, Charles Gagnier, Jacob Wester, Jossi Wells, and others. Following the qualifications on Saturday, (in which TJ Schiller bode well by gaining top points), Sunday saw the finals where the top eight riders who qualified the day before put up an adrenalin paced show for the huge crowd with each rider making as many runs as he could during an exhilarating 45 minute jam session. With blue skies and a sultry 77 degrees (25C) the snow on the landing became soft making fakie landings particularly difficult and this was not helped by the fact that the landing was a little too steep causing a few falls. But the riders threw down what they could to impress the judges. Dumont fresh from New Zealand was in good form while Jacob Wester, who the day before wowed the crowd with kangaroos, laid down double back japan and cab 7 tail. Frenchman Richard Permin, who showed much improvement last season, put in a strong performance by showing off some super stylish fakie 900s, continuing his surprise renaissance on the European scene. Towards the end of the session as the heat built up under the relentless sun the impact was beginning to show on some of the riders, in particular TJ and Dumont looked hot and tired and were slowing down. The final leg, “The Super Final” pitched Jon Olsson, Charles Gagnier and Austrian Martin Missof against each other. Charles Gagnier did a very stylish fakie 1080 while Jon Olsson did a super smooth switch misty 1080. However both were passed over into first place by Missof who did a clean fakie 1080 with excellent landing. Missof (24) was experiencing his first year without invitation at freestyle.ch and therefore had been through the drag of having to do the pre-qualification two days earlier with all the rookies in order to get on the start list. So he was particularly stoked to take first place exhibiting a triumphant air as he basked in the crowd’s adulation. The event itself (which also included competitions in motor-cross/snowboard/skate) worked well overall with all sessions starting on time and good organization generally on the ground including the useful elevator to take riders to the top of the 84ft (28m) high jump. But there were some gripes. Mutterings were heard all round about the judging with a consensus in the air that Jossi Wells and Josh Bibby should have got through to the qualification round (from the prequalification) as they were both laying down stylish switch 900s in the pre-quals’ and that Tim Russel and 14 year old Swede Henrik Harlaut deserved a place in the finals. Questions were begged about the wisdom of putting the jump facing the sun (whatever the advantage to photographers) and holding the sessions at mid-day. During the final jam session as i saw Dumont with sweat pouring, going slow towards the end I found myself recalling him making this very point to me a couple of days earlier. And, on a less serious note, mood was not helped by the odd room sharing arrangements at the event hotel where some riders were laughably expected to share small double beds with each other.But on the whole this was the type of fun event that every season should kick off with, where rookies and pros all meet up again and lay down some excellent skiing for a snow starved audience. Overall it was a lot of fun and everyone (even cameramen) were seemingly in a good mood. Basically we were all there for fun and on that level the weekend was worth the many air miles that TJ, Jossi, Tim and others covered to get there. ResultsSuperfinal Showdown1. Martin Missof Austria, 35.9 points2. Jon Olsson, Sweden, 34.3 points3. Charles Gagnier, Canada, 33.3 pointsFinal (jam session)4. Richard Permin, France 60.7 points5. TJ Schiller, Canada 59.9 points6. Simon Dumont, USA, 59.1 points7. Florian Weiser, Austria 55.3 points8. Jacob Wester, Sweden 55.2 points

Martin Missof Winner of Big Air
TJ Schiller First Place in the Qualification Round
Soft, warm snow; lots of falls
Jon Olsson and Martin Missof waiting for the Superfinal results
Simon Dumont cooling down after the final
Jon Olsson