Due to unsafe snow conditions on the intended Backcountry Slopestyle course, athletes and organizers took a last minute decision to change plans and hold a tiebreak-style match with only three riders from each team on a higher venue with better snow conditions. After the uncertainty and suspense of the final day, and due to amazing performances from its chosen riders, Team Americas emerged victorious, winning the second edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup in Valle Nevado, Chile.
The Swatch Skiers Cup. Photo by David Carlier
Changing the format of the event at the last minute was an extremely difficult decision for organizers and athletes alike. The variety of riding that both the Big Mountain and Backcountry Slopestyle heats offer is a trademark of the Swatch Skiers Cup, and everyone involved was wary of losing out on the freestyle component of this progressive event. However thanks to the quick action of the organizers, and incredible riding by the athletes, the event was able to showcase cutting-edge riding in a high-mountain venue behind Valle Nevado ski area.
Team Americas Captain Cody Townsend. Photo by Dom Daher
Each team had to choose only three riders to compete in the tie-break. "I chose my guys based on a combination of their motivation and enthusiasm in the moment and their abilities as creative freestyle skiers, because what I want is to push the level of riding at the event," commented event co-founder and Team Europe captain Sverre Liliequist. "If we would have won today we would have won with style."
Team Europe Captain Sverre Liliequist. Photo by David Carlier
Event judge Mark Abma also had praise for the riding of Team Europe. "Markus Eder's run was amazing, spinning 360s in both directions and incorporating a rodeo 540 and a rodeo 720, all off of the natural terrain found on this backup venue," said Abma.
Markus Eder. Photo by Jeremy Bernard
In the end, however, Team Europe couldn't stop the charge of Team Americas. With the score tied after the first two matches, it was up to KC Deane and Paddy Graham. Graham was building an impressive run, but took a hard impact on the landing of one of his airs, putting his knees to his chin and bringing his run to an end. Meanwhile, Deane dropped in with a huge backflip at the top of the face and finished the run in impressive style, thus winning the tiebreaker and the Swatch Skiers Cup trophy for his team.
Paddy Graham. Photo by Jeremy Bernard
KC Deane. Photo by Dom Daher
The conclusion of the second edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup is also a victory for the event itself. Organizers are proud to announce today that the next edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup will be held in Zermatt, Switzerland in front of the legendary Matterhorn from Februrary 9th - 16th, 2013. The event born in the minds of Sverre Liliequist and Kaj Zackrisson is here to stay!
Team Americas celebrating the win. Photo by Dom Daher
"This is a dream come true," says Swatch Pro Team member Kaj Zackrisson. "We are very excited to announce that we will meet next February in Zermatt. We knew from the beginning we had a super fun event concept, and this has let us attract the best skiers in the world. Get ready for more!"
Freeride World Tour standout and mountain guide Samuel Anthamatten responded enthusiastically to the news that the event is coming to his home town. "Zermatt is proud to host the 2013 edition of the Swatch Skiers Cip. The playground we have here is endless – surrounded by the highest mountains in the Alps, Zermatt offers challenging venues and a spectacular panorama. The local community will live the event with passion and we are looking forward to welcoming riders and guests for an amazing time!"
Team Europe & Team Americas. Photo by David Carlier
Such a world-class event wouldn't be possible without the continued support of its title sponsor, Swatch. "As a long-term partner of the Freeride World Tour and the Swatch Skiers Cup, we're thrilled to see this amazing event come to Europe for the first time. Zermatt is a fantastic, world-class venue, and its a great opportunity for the world's most exciting freeskiers, including the Swatch Pro Team's Kaj Zackrisson, Sverre Liliequist and Richard Permin, to showcase their talent and passion for the sport," says Marco Vaccari, Head of International Marketing for Swatch.
Photo by David Carlier
Last but not least, the two team captains for the next edition have already been confirmed, as Cody Townsend will lead Team Americas and Kaj Zackrisson will be in the driver's seat of Team Europe. Until they meet in the shadow of the Matterhorn, Team Americas will proudly guard the Swatch Skiers Cup trophy, their names now engraved on this piece of ski history.
Team Americas, the 2012 Swatch Skiers Cup Champions. Photo by David Carlier
Swatch Skiers Cup Backcountry Slopestyle Highlights