First Results from 2008 in Zuerich

As early as Friday evening, top aces like Andreas Wiig (NOR), Mat Rebeaud (SUI) and Sandro Dias (BRA) were seen live in action at this year’s – thanks to new installations and ever more challenging tricks.

Freeskiing at  Copyright: Marc WeilerThese guys had their focus on one thing only: getting themselves on the starting list for Sunday’s Finals. The first 14 finalists have been decided, the second half will compete on Saturday to qualify.

Things were already cooking as 2008’s opened its doors Friday evening – in terms of visitors as well as contests. The likely culprits were probably the really big surprises (literally) awaiting visitors to Europe’s largest freestyle event: the new Big Air skimming the sky with its 36m extended height, the new soaring Half Pipe, as well as the qualifying contests divided into Part 1 on Friday and Part 2 on Saturday which had held a lot of promise and really delivered.

Rodrigo Menezes from Brazil.  Copyright: Marc ZanderThe first bang of the evening came when Zurich’s City Councilor, Gerold Lauber, pressed the power button, heralding in the new, extended Big Air. The very first jump was reserved to 2007’s freestyle.champ, Sandro Dias. The honor of opening the contests, though, went to the FMX pilots. During the FMX Dirt Jump contest, the Swiss superstar, Mat Rebeaud – who came fully loaded with tricks like
an Under Flip Nac Nac and Under Flip One Hand Landing – battled it out with France’s Jeremy Rouanet (ranked 3rd in 2007’s and Thomas Pagès. The three managed to secure themselves the first three spots on the start list for Sunday’s Finals.

The FMX bike tires were still trailing smoke as the wheels of the skateboarders spun into action along the new, grander Half Pipe. Brazil’s Sandro Dias (2006 freestyle.champ and crossover.champ) performed his version of the Samba, pulling off technically difficult jumps with ease, taking to higher to the skies than any other rider, effortlessly winning the qualification. He came in ahead of the young gun, Adam Taylor (5th at Brazil X-Games and Dubai 2008), and Elliot Sloan (5th at 2007), both from the U.S.

Peetu Piiroinen from Finland.  Copyright: Marc WeilerThe newly extended Big Air managed to lift free skiers to even greater heights. The Norwegian, PK Hunder (1st at US Open Slopestyle 2007 and 1st at Orage European Open Slopestyle 2007), managed to take first place in the qualification with his smoothly finished Switch Bio 9 Mute as well as his stylish Cork 7 Double Nose Grab. The remaining spots in Sunday afternoon’s Finals line-up went to Sweden’s Jacob Wester, Simon Dumont from the U.S. (crossover.champ 2007) and the Norwegian, Aleksander Aurdal. Saturday’s second round of qualifications will determine who else will be rubbing shoulders with these guys at Sunday’s Finals.

No sooner had the free skiers flown the coup Friday evening, than the pop punk band, Goldfinger, set its «99 Red Balloons» to the skies, as they entertained visitors awaiting the start of the snowboarder qualifications. The young Finnish rider, Peetu Piiroinen, won the qualification with a stylish Backside Rodeo 7 and a Cap 9. Also managing to get their names on Final’s starting list were Austria’s Stefan Gimpl, Germany’s Elias Elhardt and Switzerland’s Reto Kestenholz.

Mat Rebeaud from Switzerland.  Copyright: Marc ZanderSaturday evening, «The Ultimate Crossover Session» will take place in the freestyle arena on Zurich’s Landiwiese. This show contest, which embodies the freestyle way of life, is sure to infuse the Landiwiese with its spirit. In this crossover contest, groups of eight riders in each of four disciplines go at it against one another in a scramble for the «crossover.champ» title. The title is currently in the hands of the freeskiers – the skateboarders and snowboarders have managed to have it in their ranks one time each and the FMXers a total of two times. Which freestyler will take off with the «freestyle.champ» title this year? Will it be Swiss FMX superstar, Mat Rebeaud, who could really use the title to complete his collection? Those looking to extend the action on the Landiwiese, can move things in the evening to the Rohstofflager at the Toni Areal and keep the freestyle spirit pumping into the earlier morning hours.

More results soon!

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