Poor conditions cancel big mountain contest, Team Americas takes 2014 Swatch Skiers Cup

January 9th, 2014 by

After the intense backcountry slopestyle portion of the 2014 Swatch Skiers Cup saw Team America take a 9 to 7 lead going into the big mountain portion of the event, high winds and warm temperatures caused conditions to deteriorate quickly. After inspecting the venue this morning, captains Julien Regnier (FRA) and JP Auclair (CAN) met with their respective teams and determined that the best course of action was to forego the big mountain event, resulting in a win for Team America.

“Everyone here is such a strong skier, and both teams have a lot of fun together on and off the snow,” explains Team Europe skier Sverre Liliequist (SWE). “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.”

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The athletes of the 2014 Swatch Skiers Cup. Copyright swatchskierscup.com / Dom Daher.

Fortunately for the spectators, each rider took a laid back (by their definition) run down the face, with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Seth Morrison each choosing high consequence lines, and Dane Tudor throwing a huge 720 off a natural air toward the bottom. The fourth edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup is in the books, with the all time series now tied at two apiece. Team Americas and Team Europe will square off yet again next year, as the event is confirmed to take place in 2015.

“Sure its disappointing, as we wanted a chance to make a comeback,” said Team Europe captain Julien Regnier (FRA). “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 sometimes 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.”

Press Release, Zermatt, Switzerland, January 9, 2014:

Team Americas was crowned champion today in Zermatt at the Swatch Skiers Cup 2014. JP Auclair’s crew held a 9 to 7 lead over Team Europe after the 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 just a few centimeters below the surface. The event was called off, giving the title to Team Americas.

“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).

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.

Team America’s 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 (CAN). “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 Team Europe captain Julien Regnier (FRA). “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 sometimes 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.”

With the fourth edition in the books, the Swatch Skiers Cup story is just beginning. Thanks to the ongoing support of Swatch, event is confirmed for 2015.

Pride. Passion. Powder. The Swatch Skiers Cup legacy is just beginning.

Related: Watch highlights from backcountry slopestyle at the 2014 Swatch Skiers Cup

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About the author:
Donny O'Neill hails from the mystical, faraway land of New Hartford, CT. When he's not in the mountains searching for Big Foot, he's the Associate Editor here at Freeskier.