Words: T. Bird
Photos: Olav Stubberud
Being a competitive snowboarder in the modern era has its ups and downs. The downside being the grueling schedule, dealing with incessant injuries, and the pressure to perform being put on you by outside forces from time to time. The ups, however, are fame, fortune, and the ability to do or learn just about every trick in snowboarding’s ever-expanding bag. But, then again, there’s ups and downs of every job, no matter what one chooses to do for a profession (or doesn’t choose to do, for that matter)
The 2013 Burton European Open presented by MINI was most certainly full of said pros and cons. Prior to my arrival in Laax, Switzerland, rumors had been swirling that a massive low pressure system would be engulfing the mountain for the week that we were to be here for the event. Those rumors were true, as for the past four days, the snow has barely let up. Now, yes, this is a very, very good thing. But, for many in attendance, this is a bit of a hindrance. Namely, the fine folks at Burton, MINI, and the rest of the BEO sponsors that have been running around frantically trying to make this contest happen (in between powder laps, of course). I, on the other hand, have been riding some of the best snow of my winter thus far, but again, as a snowboard “journalist” (I struggle to call myself this) it makes my job quite a bit more complex when I fly to Switzerland for an event and that event doesn’t happen. Ups and downs indeed.
Throughout the week, the event organizers have been shuffling different rounds of the contest to various times when the weather breaks, when more moves in, etc., and today, with massive wind gusts, blinding snow, a touch of fog, and biting cold, the slopestyle event for both the men and women was finally called, in no part due to the diligence of the staff here in Laax. If they could’ve sent them, they most certainly would’ve, but if the course maintenance crew couldn’t even be cleared to go down and maintain the jumps and rails. It would’ve been nothing short of foolish (and absolutely impossible), to give them the go-ahead.
For the women, the schedules of their prequalifying rounds had been moved around so much because of the storm system, that they hadn’t even had a chance to take their semifinal runs yet. This created quite the quandary as to what would happen if they decided to call the whole event off. So, with a field composed of some of the world’s best female jumpers, with names like Enni Rukajarvi, Kjersti Buass, Sina Candrian, Sarka Pancochova, Spencer O’Brien, Isabel Derungs, Silje Norendal, Amie Fuller, Cilka Sadar, and many, many more, the call was made that the whole Slopestyle event was off. With over $30,000 in prize money for the women alone, it was then decided that the prize money would be split evenly with all of the women who came to the European Open. This was of course the ladies’ last resort, as I’m certain that they would’ve rather had their chance to run the slope course and land their best runs, but today, it simply wasn’t a possibility. Personally, I was disappointed because the jumps and rails that the park crew at Laax had pushed up, looked immaculate, and I was looking forward to seeing the girls put on a fine show.
The men however, were granted a small window yesterday to drop in to their semifinal runs before the weather turned sour. In two heats, a field of about forty was cut down to twelve in preparation for today’s finals. When the event was called off this morning, the event staff decided to award the first, second, and third place qualifiers with the podium. Again, it was a bummer that we couldn’t witness the guys take to the course, but without sounding too repetitive, it simply wasn’t an option. In third place was Sebastien Toutant, who landed a clean run on his second of two yesterday, highlighted by his array of double corks. Mark McMorris took second and also put down a plethora of more than one cork. And it was Torstein Horgmo who took first place in the 2013 Burton European Open, with the cleanest line of jumps and rails in men’s semifinals. Torstein is officially on a roll, as almost two weeks ago he beat out McMorris in an X Games Big Air battle, in which he and Mark tied in their overall score, but Torstein took gold due to his higher single score of 50 (which is a perfect score) when he put down a switch backside 1440 triple cork. McMorris is also on one, as he took gold in X Games Slopestyle, and Seb is coming off an impressive second place finish at the Billabong Air & Style in Innsbruck just a few days ago. Congratulations, guys.
So, like I said, Laax has been a week of ups and downs. The downside being that the Slopestyle contest never fully reached its true potential, as in previous European Opens, but the upside being that no matter what happened or didn’t happen up on that course, there’s over a hundred riders who are lapping one of the best mountains in the world with some of the best conditions we’ve seen all winter…and that’s what snowboarding is really all about.
Stay tuned for results from tomorrow’s Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe Finals.
1. Torstein Horgmo
2. Mark McMorris
3. Sebastien Toutant
4. Eric Willett
5. Stale Sandbech
6. Seth Hill
7. Peetu Piiroinen
8. Alek Ostreng
9. Brage Richenberg
10. Sven Thorgren
11. Roope Tonteri
12. Eric Beauchamin