Swatch Skiers Cup - 4-10 January 2014
Zermatt was once again proud to host the Swatch Skiers Cup in our beautiful town. The 2 continents battle it out for freeskiing supremacy, with America yearning for vengeance after last years defeat.
Both captains Julien Regnier for Team Europe and JP Auclair for Team Americas have made their picks for the head-to-head matchups for the Big Mountain competition in Zermatt. Athletes will get two runs each, with a cumulative winner being decided from each heat.
The competition got off to a fierce start with the Backcountry Slopestyle heat. Team America came out on top of the first day, winning 9 rounds to match Europe's 7.
Despite the imperfect weather forecast, it was a beautiful, mostly sunny day in Zermatt, with a blanket of untouched snow covering the course. The first round was full of historic matchups with Nicolas Vuignier (SUI) taking down Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA), and Richard Permin (FRA) defeating Dane Tudor (USA) to notch points for Europe. In the clash of the legends, Seth Morrison (USA) won a point for the Americas in his match against Sverre Liliequist (SWE). Fabio Studer (AUT) had the most aggressive run of the round, with a nearly landed double flatspin off the first air, two high-speed double cliff drops, and a perfect cork 720 tail grab to finish, defeating his opponent Tim Durtschi (USA). Sam Favret (FRA) also laid down an incredible run for the European side to take out KC Deane (USA) with a huge switch 540, a cork 360, and insane 720 to finish. Team Europe held a 5-3 lead after round one.
But in round two the tables turned. Team Americas came out firing, winning the first four matchups. Tim Durtschi (USA) defeated Sam Favret (FRA), finishing his run with a double cork 1080. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) threw down the most creative run of the day, linking two unrepeated cliff drops with stylish left-side and right-side 360s, topping an impressive run from Kevin Guri (FRA). But the highlight of the day was the final run, when Americas captain JP Auclair (CAN) stepped up to the plate. A smooth run up top lead him into the final jump, where he threw a gigantic double backflip. He seemed to hang in the air forever, landing further down the landing hill than any other competitor, stomping the air perfectly.
“I was smiling as I approached the final jump. I got a good chance to feel out the jump on run one, so for run two I was feeling really good,” explained JP Auclair (CAN). “I don’t do doubles very often unless it’s the perfect moment, and this was one of those times.”
Auclair’s win over Team Europe captain Julien Regnier (FRA) put an exclamation point on Team Americas’ day one victory. Final score: Team Americas 9; Team Europe 7.
Unfortunately the competition was cut short after the first days riding due to unpredictable conditions. JP Auclair’s crew held a 9 to 7 lead over Team Europe after Backcountry Slopestyle day, leaving Big Mountain on Thursday to decide the ultimate winner. But due to high winds and warm temperatures worsening the already-thin conditions, Big Mountain was called off, giving Team Americas the victory after one day of riding.
After the teams spent the morning visually inspecting the venue and a forerunner skied the face to test the snow, Team captains Julien Regnier (FRA) and JP Auclair (CAN)held a meeting with all riders. It was decided that conditions weren’t safe enough to run the event due to the unpredictable snow and numerous rocks hidden dangerously below just a few centimeters below the surface. The event was called off, giving the title to Team Americas.
The Team Americas victory ties the score for the history of the event, with each team claiming two wins for their side. “I’m definitely proud to lead the team to victory,” said Americas captain JP Auclair. “But it does feel a bit incomplete. Both teams really wanted a chance to face off again today.”
“Sure its disappointing, as we wanted a chance to make a comeback,” said Europe captain Julien Regnier. “But we tried everything possible, searching far and wide in the helicopter for the ideal venue and waiting for the ideal day. In the mountains sometime you try everything but it still doesn’t work out. In the end I really like how this decision was in the hands of the athletes -- this is what makes the Swatch Skiers Cup special.”
Though the official event was cancelled, since all the athletes were already in the starting gate each rider took a no-pressure run, putting on a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition for the gathered spectators. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) and Seth Morrison (USA) simultaneously skied a scary line down a zigzagging ramp on the largest cliff on the face. Kevin Guri (FRA) laid down one of his signature high-speed lines,flashing down the mountain in just a few seconds. Dane Tudor (USA) found a natural air over a roll at the bottom of the face for a huge 720.
Everyone here is such a strong skier, and both teams have a lot of fun together on and off the snow. But they’re also really intense competitors who are serious about winning their runs. That’s why it was important to call it off – these guys aren't going to hold anything back even if conditions aren't perfect,” explained event co-founder and Team Europe rider Sverre Liliequist (SWE).
But the Swatch Skiers Cup story is far from complete. Thanks to the ongoing support of Swatch, the Swatch Skiers Cup is confirmed for 2015.
ZERMATT: ALPINE EPICENTER
One of the most respected ski centers in the world, Zermatt, Switzerland is as unique as it is recognizable. It is here that the most impressive peaks and largest glaciers in the Alps come together with cutting edge skiing infrastructure and an unmatched five-star village experience. From the Matterhorn to the Gornergrat, these timeless symbols of the Alps are just part of everyday life for those lucky enough to come to this magical valley. Climbers and skiers have had centuries to explore the fantastic mountain terrain that surrounds Zermatt. Yet new chapters are written each season, with people such as local guide Samuel Anthamatten pioneering new climbing and skiing lines on the walls that tower above his village, and events like the SWATCH SKIERS CUP bringing renewed energy to this special town.
For more informations for trips to Zermatt - visit otp.co.uk