words & photos: Oliver Maccabez – http://www.echosphere.ch

video & editing: Jean-Yves Jaquet  - http://www.washawproductions.com

music: Philter - http://www11.nrk.no/urort/Artist/Philter/default.aspx

The Montreux Jib Festival took place in the city of the same name, quite used to hosting big events such as the Montreux Jazz Festival. Montreux is a very rich and posh city, placed directly on the shores of the Lake Leman, and full of many luxurious hotels, palaces, and casinos. Not to mention the fashion shops. It’s definitively a city for rich people…it’s in this context that the Orgiride Crew wanted to create their own event, and bring the snow into the city, instead of having everyone going out to the ski resorts.

The Orgiride Association was born several years ago, when a bunch of kids were riding a field in their own village (Orgevaux). The years went by, and within the natural growth of the ski & snowboard industry, they transformed their field into a real ski slope, then into a real snowpark, with many jib modules. Today, this snowpark is still advancing with new elements such as rails, boxes and picnic tables. Once a week, the crew meets in the park, and rides it until late in the night using powerful floodlights.

If the idea of the Montreux Jib Festival was hanging in the air for the last four years, and it was only a few months ago that the date was set for the weekend of January 19th & 20th, 2008.

The 1st Montreux Jib Festival

The concept of this event is to bring the snow down to the city, within a few meters of the lake in the middle of the town. “The Market Place, was the best area to hold this event”, said the Event Director, Cédric Diserens during an interview. Since then, and a thousand hours of hard work later, they finally managed to bring the event to life. And what an event! Planned on one of the busiest weekends in Switzerland with at least five events scheduled in a range of 100km, nobody could predict before that 8,000 people would be coming to see this jib event, sharing ski & snowboard contests, locally produced products, many animations and food stands. But the most important fact for the organizers was to stay with the Orgiride philosophy, which was to promote freeskiing, help the everyday man to discover snowsports as well as providing a good show and entertainment. And last but not least, to give the riders one of the smoothest events, where they could feel at home, and have a great deal of fun. This event required nearly 120m of snow, delivered free of charge by a local truck company. The slope was 60m long and counted four4 modules, an 13m long up-flat-down box, a rail, a 8m long picnic table, and a small wall-ride at the end of the slope.

Here’s the park of the Montreux Jib Festival.

The contest brought 50 riders equally distributed between ski & snowboard, mixing pro and am riders. The judging concept was totally innovative as well. As the European Football Cup will take place in June in Switzerland, the organizers of the event wanted to create the same atmosphere. So they created a new concept, where the riders session the park, and if he fell on any module, he received a Red Card, synonymous of a direct elimination. If the rider didn’t have a clean style, or if he faltered during his ride, he received a Yellow Card, which signified that he was not allowed to make another mistake. Two yellow cards made one red, and one red card was OUT. If the riders ran to the satisfaction of the judges, he received a blue card, denoting clearance for the next level. So this new concept was pretty interesting, and allowed more runs to be possible by the riders. During the finals, the difficulty was raised up with a battle “K.O.” between two riders and using the same card style. Absolutely fabulous!

It all started on Saturday afternoon…

The freeski part of the event started on Saturday afternoon, with the training and the qualifications giving us already a taste of what was going to be seen in the evening finals. The first feature, the up-flat-down box was definitively the most interesting one. If the first objective was to pass the entire box without falling in between, the challenge quickly changed. As the riders seemed to feel at ease on it, some of them attempted very difficult tricks, such as a broken on the flat area of the box, or a sex-change on the up section of it, then doing another one on the down section.

Pierre-Antoine Laurent, doing one of his amazing runs.

While some riders were just doing 270 on, or 270 out, like a classical run, the rider who took everybody out with an amazing trick was Pierre-Antoine Laurent, a French rider from “Les Cluses” with an incredible run;  regular on, to switch-up to switch up 360. Applauded by everybody, judges, riders, and spectators, we all thought he would pass easily through the qualification round. But he didn’t. What a shame! It appeared that the judges preferred the style of the rider, rather than the difficulty of the trick itself…which was confirmed when we saw that all the French guys, with amazing runs, didn’t qualify.

Jules is another guy from France. French riders have bought an amazing level to this Jib Contest.

Augustin Solioz, one of the Guys from Geneva.

For the girls, they was no qualification round since they were all qualified for the evening finals. So during the men’s qualification the girls spent their time training, this is when Claudia Neuweiler from Laax broke her knee on the module. Feeling for you Claudia!

This qualification round allowed both the media and all those present to make new discoveries. A special mention should be given to two small ski companies, Hammer skis, represented by Benoit Marxer, and the Suicide Skis Team, represented by nearly the entire Team and directed by a special Icon, a rider wearing the “Scream Mask.” Everybody was able to assist in the amazing flexibility of these skis as well as the very dark motifs designed on them. The aforementioned companies, as portrayed by their slogans, could appear to be a little bit disconcerting; “Suicide or Die.” Both of them were interviewed, and you can see their video interviews at the bottom of this article.

Be careful Scream is back…

The new brand, Suicide Skis.

At the end of the qualification round, only four am riders (Benoit Marxer, Thibault Smith, Léo Bottarel and Benoit Albertini) were still in the game and were going to be able to compete for the finals, against three local pro riders, Martin Robin, Gregory Tuscher, Anthony Vuignier and one guest; JL Ratchel.

Some riders attempted hard tricks, like this guy with a “broken” on the flat segment of the box.

Benoit Marxer during his qualification run.

Just after the qualification round, around 4:30pm, a Sunset Photo session took place in the park, where skiers and snowboarders tried to do their best tricks to impress the photographers who were around. Riders posed for the local media, with the intention to be the one rider to get his picture on the first page of the Monday newspaper. The riders attending the Sunset Photo Session consisted mainly of those who didn’t qualify from the finals, the others were keeping their energy for the evening finals.

During the Sunset Photo session, some of the visitors took advantage of this time to visit the commercial stands or taste some of the typical specialties at the food stands. “Choucroute”, “Alpine Macaroni ” or the French “Tartiflette”, were flavors of the day. Of cause, paninis, hot dogs and burgers were also available.

… and it all ended on Saturday Evening.

At 6:30pm, the park was completely illuminated, and many photographers took out their flashes, to capture the best part of the event; the finals. Final rounds were judged in accordance with the color card qualification system and the K.O. concept. Where some riders directly put their opponents in KO during some of the battles, the judges requested a 3rd run to make a final decision.

The semi-finals were quite epic.  One of the local riders received massive support from his friends. Although the skiing level was not as high as expected, we could qualify his final by using the term “temple of style”.

If it was natural to find local pros for the super finals, one rider still didn’t make it, JL Ratchel, who was quite tired after competing during the afternoon for the Verbier Ride. This was one of the major events during this Swiss skiing weekend. The big surprise came from Benoit Marxer, who passed all the qualification rounds and final battles without any mistakes. He was justifiably the King of the Day. He took the first place, and won the 500 USD prize money and a few accessories.

Greg Tuscher during the final round.

It nearly seems too easy for Martin Robin…

JL Ratchel, on the 8-metre picnic table.

The finals were as well the accession of the little ski companies, with Hammer skis, Ninthward and Suicide Skis, who sponsored the top three winners. This occasion was definitely a fantastic promotion for these brands to expand a little bit more in Switzerland.

Following the injury of Claudia during the training session, only three girls were left, Audrey Faivre (Virginie’s sister), Chloe Veuthey and Serena Woods.

Audrey Faivre, Virginie’s Sister, had great pleasure to ride this park.

Chloe had some difficulty to pass the entire box. But she said that she’ll come back to finish it in the Orgevaux Park.

Legend: Serena Woods, the only girl tonight to pass the entire box.

To come out with a clear winner, the judges decided to give the first place to any girl able to pass the first box entirely. With style, the first place went to Serena Woods, from the U.K. who is currently spending her winter season in Laax with Claudia. She went back to Laax, with the 300 USD prize money, and the feeling of being the best female rider of the day.

The men’s podium, with Greg on the left, Martin on the right, and Benoit Marxer, the winner.

Men’s Freeski Results

1st Benoit Marxer

2nd Grégory Tuscher

3rd Martin Robin

4th Tibault Smith

The women’s podium, with Chloe on the right, and Serena Woods, the winner. Audrey was missing for the Prize Ceremony.

Woman’s Freeski Results

1st Serena Woods

2nd Audrey Faivre

3rd Chloé Veuthey

4th Claudia Neuweiler

(did not finish)

After the finals, and the prize ceremony, everyone was invited to the NED Club in the city of Montreux, for the after ride party where Mad Killah (France), Soldia Sound (Switzerland) and Selekta G (Switzerland) presented themselves for the pleasure of the clubbers. Many riders partied until the end of the night…

On Sunday, the park was still open for a Kids Free session, with a view to instructing a security approach to this sport. Many kids who wished to practice ski or snowboard were able to ride the park on small boxes and rails. During the afternoon, the Montreux Jib Festival ended with a Snowman Contest organized by the Youth Association of Montreux, using up the snow that hadn’t yet melted…

So this was the end of the 1st Montreux Jib Festival which attracted almost 8,000 people during the weekend. The event totally satisfied the organizers who wanted to produce and show an entertaining festival enabling the visitors to discover skiing in an urban area and enjoy a great show!

As a result of this great success, the event will be held again next year, for the 2nd Montreux Jib Festival!

Benoit, during his qualification round, and the Lake behind. What a nice spot.

If the park counted on 4 modules, the first box was the most rided. Here, an unknown rider attempts the down rail.

As a few people were asking about the incredible flex of these skis, we decided to give you a picture of it, in front of the Lake.