International Freeski Champions Virginie Faivre (SUI), Sarah Burke (CAN), Russ Henshaw (AUS), Mike Riddle (CAN), Phil Casabon (CAN), Xavier Bertoni (FRA), Jossi Wells (NZE), Paddy Graham (GBR) and PK Hunder (NOR) will go head to head for US$ 50.000 prize money in Slopestyle & Half Pipe at Crap Sogn Gion

Swedish rock combo “The Movements” live in concert at riderspalace

(LAAX, SUI – February 19, 2009) – The premier freestyle destination in Europe, LAAX, is hosting the European season highlight of the freeski scene - the Orage European Freeski Open by Swatch from 17th to 21st March 2009. For the fourth time the world’s best freeskiers will crown their Champions in Slopestyle and Half Pipe on the Crap Sogn Gion mountain. With a purse of US$ 50'000 the event offers the highest prize money on the continent. The Slopestyle course and Half Pipe belong to the most innovative and expertly shaped constructions in the Alps. The resort’s strong commitment to the sport and its lifestyle combined with an extensive background in organising rider-driven freestyle events serve to make the set-up unique.

Snow, snow and more snow – the “Weisse Arena” is currently blessed with blankets of powder. To guarantee right now the riders the best possible training conditions in the park & pipe requires full manpower from the LAAX crew. The Zaugg monster (limited edition LAAX) is already working hard in the 140 metre long Superpipe and the shapers are busy shovelling in the Slopestyle course, which includes a three-combo kickerline and 6 different obstacles in total. Some additional elements will be built especially for the event.

Coming from all around the globe will be 200 freeskiers encompassing amateurs and newcomers, X-Games winners and World Cup Champions. They will be taking on the 2008 European Open Defending Champions, Virginie Faivre (SUI - SS), Russ Henshaw (AUS - SS), Sarah Burke (CAN - HP) and Mike Riddle (CAN - HP). Top riders from North America (Phil Casabon, Colby West, Jennifer Hudak, Roz Groenewoud) and Down Under (Jossi Wells) will face Europe’s cream of the freeskiing world. Already confirmed on the seeded semi final starting lists are 2009 X-Games Winner, Xavier Bertoni from France, Norwegians PK Hunder, Andreas Hatveit and Anders Backe, fellow Scandinavians Oscar and Henrik Harlaut (SWE) and the Finnish AJ Kemppainen as well as the British Champion Paddy Graham (GBR). New generation skiers, including the Swiss brothers Andri and Elias Ambühl as well as Benni Mayr from Germany will be taking on the established riders. In the finals on Friday (20th March) and Saturday (21st March) the top 6 scoring women and top 12 scoring men will bust out breathtaking tricks, multiple rotations and high level runs to land a place on the podium.

All fans and visitors can expect not only sports highlights at the Orage European Freeski Open by Swatch 2009, but also a variety of side events on the mountain and in the valley. Industry partners Orage, Völkl, Marker, Giro, K2, Salomon and Smith will exhibit their latest equipment in the event village around the Crap Sogn Gion. Downtown the places to be are the rocksresort, a stylish holiday complex built right next to the lift station, and the riderspalace. Ensuring that the event will end with a bang will be Swedish band “The Movements” who will be rocking out their new album “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” live on stage on Saturday night.

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