The Swatch Skiers Cup, the first-ever continental team freeski event, Zermatt / Switzerland - February 2015. 18 of the world's best freeskiers competing in both Big Mountain and Backcountry Slopestyle to bring back home the treasured Swatch Skiers Cup trophy.The 2 teams of 9 Riders, led by captains Seth Morrison - USA (Team Americas) and Julien Regnier - FRA (Team Europe), will battle in a series of man-to-man duels in the Swiss Alps. A rider winning his duel scores one point for his team and the team with the most points at the end of the 2-day competition gains possession of the Swatch Skiers Cup trophy for one year.swatchskierscup.com J.Bernard
TEAM EUROPE TAKES A TIGHT LEAD IN THE SWATCH SKIERS CUP 2015
Zermatt, Switzerland - February 25, 2015 - The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 Backcountry Slopestyle (BCS) event took place today in a stunning setting, literally rubbing against the monumental Matterhorn. Team Europe won 10 of the 18 heats, bringing the current score to 10-8 going into the second and decisive event tomorrow: The Big Mountain event.
Her Majesty the Matterhorn has been around for a while but certainly, she hasn't seen this kind of action right at her feet before. On the longest ever BCS venue with a vertical drop of 600m (2000 ft), the rivaling teams threw on one duel after another of acrobatic accomplishments and unbelievable balance.
The judges scored the runs by heats of 2 from a simple scale of win or lose. However lots of details go into the judgment of the overall impression. SSC judge and former pro skier and 2002 X Games bronze medalist Philippe Poirier (CAN) explains: "We look a lot at the style in the air, the composition and fluidity of the run, originality and of course the balance in the landings. Also, even if you know your opponent has crashed, you have to still go for it, so if you come down doing thee spread eagles to stay safely on your feet, you still risk losing it."
Sam Anthamatten swatchskierscup.com D.Daher
1st round – The test drive that counts
The difficulty of the first round is that the skiers have only had a visual check to base their decisions on. They have to rely solely on their feel for the snow and their experience to adjust the speed to the different features. Sam Favret (FRA) started out taking a point for Europe in the first heat by beating Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) – both stomping their runs but Sam throwing tricks of higher difficulty. The next four rounds would see points going to Team Americas. Both Richard Permin (FRA) and Sven Kueenle (GER) crashed hard in their heats, taking them out for the second round and sending them straight for a medical check-up.
The first round finished of with a duel between the two Team Captains, Seth Morrison (USA) and Julien Regnier (FRA) with the victory going to Julien after Seth had laid out with a Flat3 Japan up top followed by a huge back flip off a cliff earning him the baptizing rights. He just managed to save the landing but then crashed after the next feature.
The first round ended with a score of 5-4 to Team Americas.
2nd round – The big arms were taken to battle
This is traditionally the round where the riders pull off their best stuff, after having tasted the terrain and felt how much speed is needed to get the air wanted in the first round.
The second round laid out with a duel between duel Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) taking the score even by beating Rory Bushfield (CAN) who almost beat the strong Frenchie by going for the wow factor, opening of the big kicker 4 that none had felt tempted to take in round 1.
swatchskierscup.com Foto J.Bernard Ridre Cody Townsend
Then next many rounds kept the score very close, alternating wins to the two teams all the way up to the much awaited heat of legends: Seth Morrison (USA) versus Sverre Liliequist (SWE). Both guys showed that they are not done playing yet. Seth sent an even bigger back flip than first time off "his" cliff – inspiring Sverre to send an evenly big back flip off another cliff. Both crashed but the wow factor was such that they definitely delivered the highlights of the day. Sverre got the point taking the score to an even 9-7.
Andy Mahre (USA) set up a spectacular second run but not enough to beat Sam Favret (FRA) in this very tight heat. Finally, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) having stepped in for Sven Kueenle (GER) in the heat that showed the highest level of the day against Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA).
Sage won the heat with probably the most creative line of the day, including combination of a man-made and natural feature into a double up top and opening up a new air.
"No one else hit it [the kicker] and I would just rather land in powder," Sage said afterwards and explained that it usually adds to the overall impression as well: "It's always better to do a different line than what everyone else is doing in these types of contests where it's about overall impression. Since no one had hit it, it's kind of more surprising."
The score of the Backcountry Slopestyle event thus ended 10-8 to Team Europe. Before finding the overall winning team of this 5th edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup, there is still one more event to go. The Big Mountain event will be held on Thursday. The final score will be settled and the winners will be revealed at the Official Prize Giving Ceremony at 6pm in the Event Village in front of the Swatch store in Zermatt.
Lohan Pehota Can swatchskierscup.com J.Bernard
Rider Lohan Pehota Can. swatchskierscup.com d.daher
Andy Mahre USA swatchskierscup.com