Markus Eder won the Big Air title at Nico Zacek’s Nine Knights Freeski Invitational in Oberstdorf last Saturday. The young Italian had only gained access to the prestigious event as the “Wanna Be A Knight?” online qualifier, but proceeded to beat some of Europe’s best
freestyle skiers on his way to the championship. The Nine Knights Freeski Invitational is undoubtedly the most important freeskiing event in the German speaking Alps. Since two years Nico Zacek has been creating his very own snow castle in Oberstdorf and gathered nine of Europe’s best freestyle skiers for a week of exclusive sessions.
New for this season, Nico decided to give a newcomer the chance to be part of his spectacle, too. Every talented skier could send in a video edit in the “Wanna Be A Knight?” Contest and the best one would earn a spot among the nine knights. When Nico Zacek received the entry of Markus Eder, the Marker Völkl international team rider barely knew his team mate who had been on the Italian regional team so far. But Nico was immediately impressed: “I was blown away with the great variety of tricks the edit showed and I knew immediately that Markus had a great chance to make it to Oberstdorf.” Though many more videos followed by lots of talented riders, the young Italian’s effort still stood strong at the end.
When the lad from Southern Tyrol finally arrived among the knights, he was stoked: “It is great to have the chance to ride with all those guys on such a great obstacle.” Markus didn’t show any signs of hesitation in the presence of his famous peers and the impressive jump. In fact, he was one of the leading protagonists throughout the week of Nine Knights, performing incredibly well on the kicker and being the first to check in the intimidating jib obstacles like the several meters high rainbow box in the shape of an axe and the massive wallride. His audacity finally earned him the title “Best Jibbing“ at Nine Knights.
Markus Eder’s most shining day was still to come, however. It was the final day of Nine Knights, when the official big air contest went down in front of a big crowd up on Nebelhorn. 16 invited riders jammed the 22-meter-kicker for 90 minutes, before the five finalists were announced. Markus Eder were given three more runs to surpass his co-chosen competitors, Bene Mayr from Germany, Austrian Luggi Brucic, Swedish shooting star Kristoffer Edwall and Paddy Graham from Great Britain. And he did! With two great tricks in his first two jumps, a Kangaroo Flip Japan and Double Cork 1260° High Mute, he even could afford to show another crowd-pleasing wall ride at last and still take home the title. What a great victory and the start to a very promising career on the highest international level. It will be interesting to see Markus Eder return within freeskiing’s top class next season.
ABOUT: MARKUS EDER
At first sight, Markus Eder is a typical Italian from Southern Tyrol. He was born in Bruneck and raised in Luttach in the nearby Ahrntal valley, where he still lives today. He started skiing at the age of four, was an alpine racer for many years and enjoys rock climbing in the summer. The 19-year-old even loves pizza and ice-cream. However, a few winters back something diverted his typically Italian path. He discovered freeskiing! Five years later Markus Eder is the first Italian new school freestyler to reach international recognition. A first exclamation mark was an impressive win of his qualifying heat at the European Freeski Open in Laax. Unfortunately for Markus, the finals had to be cancelled due to bad weather. Thus it took another two months of waiting until his break-through to stardom with the victory at the Nine Knights big air invitational. Markus Eder might not stay alone for long as an Italian freeski star, however. There has developed a lively freestyle scene in the land of soccer and pasta, with the funpark in Bruneck being one of the centres. There and on the Schnalstal glacier, the reggae fan will prepare for next season to eventually reach his big goal of an X Games participation. If he makes it, he even might quit his current occupation as electrician for a while.
ABOUT: NICO ZACEK
He is probably the most famous German freeskier, but definitely has influenced the sport in Germany most massively. Also because he is part of the scene since the beginning. Speaking of the past, although Nico is not living in the middle age he is lord of a castle, knight and nobleman. Two years ago the sports scientist invented the Nine Knights event in Oberstdorf. Since then, he is building his own castle made of snow year by year. This being a matter of honour for the 28-year-old regent, he also joins the participating knights and jumps across his seat of government on skis as well. But only as long as there’s no females’ gravity calling Nico into action. With girls around the Innsbruck citizen sometimes forgets about his skiing goals and works on, eh, social challenges. From the sportsman’s point of view the co-founder of the freeskiing platform downdays.eu already achieved quite a lot. In 2006 he won the Orage Masters, he was the only German freeski competitor at the X-Games and his event is named in a row with the invitational contests of the worldwide superstars. Meanwhile, looking for the typical skier’s career turning from former racer to freeskier is senseless in the vita of the passionate mountainbiker. Nico prefered playing soccer or ice-hockey and went inline-skating. The last set the basics for his freestyle-skills on skis. Nico‘s further individual development was and still is based on the influence of all different kinds of sports and his proclivity for ladies. Just like the noblemen did!