The famed Jon Olsson Invitational goes down in Åre, Sweden this week; this marks the 10th installation of one of skiing’s greatest big air showdowns. This year’s contest is marked by a new format, and, as always, a stacked rider list coupled with a gargantuan jump.
In terms of the event format, Olsson wrote on his blog:
“I wanted to make sure we keep the ‘show’ in the event. Qualifying will take place on Friday, April 11, where everyone gets three jumps. The best 16 riders will move on to the final on Saturday and the two best skiers will be guaranteed a spot in the super final. On Saturday, the finalists will be divided into pairs and we will run a head-to-head format until we reach the final. Then, the two top qualifiers will join the two skiers that moved on to the super final, and they will all have two jumps where the best one counts. This way we have an exciting format but we also make sure that we will have the top skiers in the super final, where they have two jumps each, so they really can go for it, so I think this will be the best format that we have had.”
You get all that? Bottom line: the head-to-head format will make for a wild, exciting contest—fun for the skiers, and equally entertaining for the massive crowd that has historically flocked to Åre to soak in the JOI spectacle.
The 2014 JOI rider list is as follows:
1. Henrik Harlaut
2. Alex Bellemare
3. Torin Yater-Wallace
4. Elias Ambühl
5. Vincent Gagnier
6. Frej Jönsson
7. Kai Mahler
8. Joss Christensen
9. Jesper Tjäder
10. PK Hunder
11. Luca Tribondeau
12. Aleksander Aurdal
13. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
14. Lars Björum
15. Christof Schenk
16. Noah Morrison
17. Fabian Bösch
18. Matt Walker
19. Espen Bergh
20. John Brown
21. Robby Franco
22. Oscar Wester
*Rider list is subject to change
Today, the skiers arrived to Sweden. Upon arrival, they were whisked to Åre by means of helicopter, Audi RS6 or RS7. Olsson certainly knows how to show the riders a good time—the high-class hospitality has been a trademark of this event from its inception.
As per usual, the jump is looking prime. Olsson has been working with a team of builders over the course of the past month to ensure the kicker is in tip-top shape.
“Weather wise things did not work out so well so we had to cancel the first training,” Olsson notes, “but since we have [multiple] days of training it’s no biggie.” Despite the weather, Olsson remains optimistic. “We are going to have an amazing week no matter what so life is good,” he says.
So, will Hunder defend his title? Will Harlaut stomp a nose butter triple 2160? Will Kenworthy’s puppies steal the show? Perhaps Tjäder will send another double backflip to the moon? Or will Gagnier Gumby his way to the top of the podium? Time will tell.
Lastly, as advertised, in celebration of this being the 10th JOI, here are 10 photos of Olsson without his shirt on, as seen on Instagram. Because… Why not?￼
Note: Fans are actively engaged in the 2014 Fantasy Freeride League, with two events left to go this season. The grand prize winner will take home a $1,000 shopping spree to Breckenridge, Colorado’s Slope Style ski shop. With the Jon Olsson Invitational and AFP World Championships still on tap this spring, there’s plenty of opportunity to take over the top spot in the FFL standings.