The 16th annual freestyle.ch event wrapped another successful year on Sunday afternoon in Zurich, Switzerland, despite a rainy Saturday which wreaked havoc for the skiers and snowboarders working to earn a shot in the finals. Fortunately, better weather on Sunday allowed competitors to step their game up with their most difficult tricks, ensuring victories could be handed out to Gjermund Braten in snowboarding, and Henrik Harlaut in freeskiing.
Despite challenging conditions on Saturday evening, Tom Wallisch continued his role as freeskiing’s ambassador of style, winning the ultimate prize of freestyle.ch, the cross-over title. Given to the athlete who performs the most crowd-pleasing moves among the four freestyle.ch disciplines including freesking, snowboarding, skateboarding, and freestyle moto-x; Wallisch’s laid-out switch backflips were enough to earn the coveted title.
Footage of Wallisch’s cross-over win:
While Wallisch and the skiing community were understandably stoked about skiing’s win at the marquee event, attention quickly shifted towards the freeskiing finals on Sunday.
Following an exciting semi-finals, the skiers were narrowed down to an ultra-tight competition between four skiers: Henrik Harlaut of Are, Sweden; Elias Ambuhl of Masein, Switzerland; Andreas Hatveit of Hovet, Norway; and PK Hunder of Oyer, Norway.
PK Hunder, who hoped to use freestyle.ch to ease back into the competition scene after breaking his neck in Spring 2009, fell awkwardly after putting down a double cork 1080 in a stumble that was nearly identical to the one that left him needing spinal surgery. Thankfully Hunder was okay, and his move was still good enough for a 4th place finish.
Following Hunder was another Norwegian, Andreas Hatveit, who secured 3rd place with a beautiful double cork 1080 mute to double japan grab.
The top two finishers were essentially a toss-up. Hometown hero Ambuhl favored technicality, launching a double cork 1080 with a double ‘scissor’ grab. Initially appearing to be an octo-grab (a combined nose and tail grab using opposite skis), Ambuhl instead crossed both skis and yanked both tips for a double grab not seen before.
However, given the size of the jump, Harlaut might have found the happy medium between style and technicality. Harlaut, who was plagued with a knee injury last year, showed he was back to old form with a floaty switch double cork 900 safety grab to secure the win, knocking Ambuhl into the silver position.
On the snowboard side, the competition was equally fierce between Gjermund Bråten and Sebastien Toutant in the finals. Both riders dropped textbook double cork 1260s, but in the end, Gjermund Bråten pulled his moves cleaner than Toutant, earning the champagne shower.
With the completion of the Zurich event, the city big air season is officially in full-swing with more stops to come from Sweden, Germany, and England among others. Now that skiers and boarders know what to expect from their fellow athletes, look for competition to heat up as the next wave of contests kick off in the coming weeks.