Alex Neurohr and Albertini Suisse air it out.Photos by Peter Charaf, Camilla Stoddart and Alison FerteThis year's Verbier Ride 07 (http://www.verbierride.com) showed the resort of Verbier (http://www.verbier.ch) where freestyle skiing is at right now! International freeski athletes threw down amazing tricks to the delight of the huge crowd in Televerbier’s (http://www.televerbier.ch) Snowpark (http://www.mysnowpark.ch) situated in the La Chaux ski area.DAY 1 - RAIL JAMThe Verbier Ride 07 Rail Jam showed the highest level of rail riding the event has ever seen. The course consisted of three rails; first a flat-down, second a down rail with street-rail kicker set-up (where the riders jump on from either side rather than coming over the top), and a down-flat-down kink rail, again with a street style kicker onto it.Canadian Thomas Theberge.There was a bit of cloud in the sky in the morning, but the course was well painted and maintained by Verbier Snowpark manager Fred Surma, so the flat light wasn’t a problem for the riders. After a warm up the sun came out and the competition got under way. The riders hit the rails for an hour in the Qualification round. The judges took the best 10 riders into a semi-final and each rider got 3 hits on the rails to show their level and consistency. Picking the best out of the field was a tough job. It was Russ Henshaw (AUS) who seemed to impress the most, consistently throwing down technical and clean lines. From the ten riders that had been moved forward from the Qualification heat, the field was again narrowed down to the top four. Russ Henshaw (AUS), Alex Neuhror (SUI), Yvan Métrailler (SUI) and Thomas Theberge (CAN) were then put against each other head to head for a best of three runs knock-out, the winners going through to a 2nd and 1st place final. In the first heat Russ laid down another clean run and took a point from Alex, however on the second run Alex managed to pull a point back, taking it to a decider. On the final run Russ’s consistency paid off, and he secured a place in the final. Alex Neurohr.In the second heat, Yvan Métrailler and Thomas Theberge again went one round a piece. Yann managed to steal the place in the final heat with a steezy and technical line. In the finals Russ Henshaw took 1st place with his typically consistent run, improved from previous rounds with a styled 450 onto the Flat-Down, 270 on and 270 off on the Down Rail and then on the Kink Rail he did a switch disaster lipslide and came off switch. 2nd place went to Yann Métrailler who went on the flat down to revert 270 off, then butter 270 on 270 off on the Down Rail and then did lipside disaster revert 270 out on the Kink Rail. 3rd place went to local Verbier rider Alex Neuhror with a 270 revert out on the Flat Down, butter to revert on the 270 down rail and then disaster to revert 270 on the Kink.In the woman’s event Beanie Milne-Home (GBR) took 1st place with a disaster on to the Flat Down Rail, slid the Down Rail and then did a disaster onto the Kink Rail. Marie-Charlotte Bagnoud (SUI) came 2nd with super smooth slide on both of the top rails. 3rd place went to Audrey Faivre (SUI) who slid the first two rails also with great style. After an awesome day’s riding it was clear that the Verbier Ride’s Rail Jam continues to attract some of the best riders from across Europe and will be a major part of the event for years to come.Beanie Milne-Home disasters the dfd.James Woods of the UK spins onto the down-flat.DAY 2 - BIG AIRRob Taylor.This year, the Big Air at the Ride was perhaps the best yet with clear skies welcoming the competitors and the crowds to the La Chaux area of Verbier. By 10am the riders were sessioning the perfectly built 18 metre table, built by one of Europe’s top shapers Nico Mardu. By midday the rider field was ready, and the action began. Immediately the level of competition was apparent with Russ Henshaw (AUS) stomping a massive switch seven mute and Yann Métrailler (SUI) holding onto a super tricky switch seven OctoGrab. Niklas Kall (SWE) pulled off a huge mute nine, Alex Neuhror (SUI) styled out a massive cork 5 double shifty, Andy Longley (GBR) pulled a smooth switch five, grabbing his nose and poking it for a hamstring stretch, James Machon (GBR) pulled a monster nine mute, and the ever consistent Andy Bennett (GBR) was throwing effortless switch nines. The show quickly drew a crowd, and Bungle’s (BEN HAWKER) enthusiasm on the mic was infectious. By 1.30pm the Qualification round was over and the judges had the inevitable task of placing the top ten athletes to go through to the final. Pierre Chedal.Russ Henshaw.By this time of the final, the crowd had grown in the Snowpark and the atmosphere at the snow bar was like a mini Glastonbury - only without the cider. Russ Henshaw threw the gauntlet down with a casual switch ten mute, Andy Bennett (GBR) and Joe Tyler (GBR) responded with switch seven’s and James Woods (GBR) with a monster corked seven mute. Then came the rest of the field spinning, flipping, grabbing, and tweaking like there was no tomorrow. Aurelien Fournier (FRA) wrapped up the first round practically clearing the landing with a monster switch nine mute that had the judges on their feet. Then followed the two girls, Beanie Milne-Home (GBR) with a slow and styled 180 and Audrey Faivre (SUI) with a safety five. The second round was much like the first – amazing! In the end though, the judges had to have a top three. Thomas Theberge took 3rd with his switch bio seven mute’s and for the first time in Ride events history the 1st place spot was a shared tie between Russ Henshaw’s switch ten and Aurelien Fournier‘s massive switch nine. In the women’s event Beanie Milne-Home took 2nd place, and Audrey Faivre’s five secured her 1st place on the podium. Jacky Bruchez.Nicolas Kall.Nearly everyone agreed that the Verbier Snowpark gave one of the best Kicker’s the Ride events have ever seen, and the spectacle offered up by the riders was nothing short of superb. The Verbier Ride freestyle event is fast becoming a major stop on the freestyle skiing calendar. With further development from Ride Freesport and the Resort of Verbier, there is no reason why Verbier Ride and the La Chaux Snowpark can’t give Europe a truly world class event in 2008.Big thanks goes out to Televerbier, Verbier Tourism, Faction Skis, Snow + Rock, Farinet/Casbah, Ski Service and 20 Minutes for financial and media support before and during the event. The action from the event will be going out to the networks from March starting with YOZ on Eurosport. You will also be able to watch the event from your IPOD and mobile by downloading the 24 minute TV programme from http://www.verbierride.com. James Woods.Stephane Vaillant.Verbier Ride videos:Large (39 MB .mov)Small (7 MB .mp4)
The University of Vermont Freestyle Skiing Team is back, kicking off their first event of the season with Vol. 2 of the Design & Ride Rail Jam at Sugarbush Mountain. On January 20th, Sugarbush Parks and UVMFST will be hosting their first rail jam of the year, with a twist - a custom designed rail plaza. Competitors can create and submit a custom rail design for the chance to have their dream design featured in the competition.