Matt Philippi and Virginie Faivre win Orage Euro Open Pipe

March 21st, 2009 by

Alas, the Orage European Freeski Open by Swatch has come to an end here in beautiful Laax, Switzerland. Under an auspicious sky (read: sun and no wind), the men’s and women’s halfpipe events came to a close today, as we have crowned one new champion and crowned an old-champion, in a new discipline here. On the men’s side, Matt Philippi took it to the international field to take home the W for the good old USA. And on the women’s side, it was none other than Virginie Faivre, who won the previous three Euro Open slopestyle competitions, now winning her 4th title in a row — in halfpipe.

The women’s field, although feeling the absence of heavy hitters Sarah Burke and Jen Hudak, still threw down, putting on a show and earning their respective keep today. Repeated pipe podium rockstar Roz Groenewoud took amplitude and 540s to the house today, nabbing that third place spot. Great Britain’s Em Lonsdale smoothly dropped back-to-back alley oops on the judges to snag second. But it was Virginie, who rode with her jacket open (read: pimp steeze), boosted big airs, back-to-back 540s and the 360 to switch alley-oop 540 combo that boosted her score nine points higher than the next woman.

On the men’s side of things, the day started with the super-semi-final… all men entered into pipe were moved into the semi-finals heats due to Thursday’s inclement wind. A few big names like Simon Dumont and Colby West pulled out of the event last minute, and Boss Mike Riddle concussed himself. But all the big names in pipe who entered managed to make finals, with the exception of France’s pipe killer Kevin Rolland, who was barely knocked off by Jossi Wells.

The finals, truly went off. Young Aurelien Fornier boosted so big that some people thought he might never come down. Banks Gilberti, who “finally made finals at an event,” [his own words] skied his little heart out. His 540 leading blunt makes everyone else’s 540 leading blunts look boring. Duncan Adams switch straight air not only got big props from the athletes, but I think some girls in the crowd fainted in sheer awe of the trick. Tucker Perkins went ballistic on his first two hits, but unfortunately couldn’t put down a clean run, as was the case with Matt Margetts. Empire and Monster teammates Jossi Wells and Peter Olenick both put down solid and stylish runs, narrowly missing the podium, coming in 4th and 5th, respectively.

In the end, Orage’s Taylor Seaton cleaned up his act after a binding malfunction first run, to drop a big switch 720, alley oop 540, both 900s, all boosted, to take 3rd place. 2009 X Games gold medalist, Xavier Bertoni, took his run consisting of a big 540, both 900s, alley oop flat 360 and switch tricks to the bank yet again, snagging second place. But no one could touch Matt Philippi, whose giant switch 1080 was followed by a right 900 to left 1080 to switch 720 to 900 nose grab landed him in the coveted spot today.

There was no better way to end a great week of events, than with the sun shining and the crowd cheering and the athletes going off. Also, as is tradition, the Banana Bar was constructed to keep onlookers and knocked out athletes refreshed and loose. Big ups to Sky and Sean (sp? on both) for keeping it real today on the hill.

As the event almost officially draws to an end, we have to remember that none of this could be possible without Orage, Laax, Swatch, and all the other sponsors. The Orage European Freeski Open by Swatch, a truly international affair, is a wonderful event and hopefully we can crown more Euro Open champs in the future (and see if Virginie can keep her streak alive).

Men’s Pipe Finals

1) Matt Philippi
2) Xavier Bertoni
3) Taylor Seaton
4) Jossi Wells
5) Peter Olenick
6) Banks Gilberti
7) Duncan Adams
8) Thomas Krief
9) Nils Lauper
10) Matt Margetts
11) Aurelien Fornier
12) Tucker Perkins

Women’s Pipe Finals

1) Virginie Faivre
2) Em Lonsdale
3) Roz Groenewoud
4) Mirjam Jaeger
5) Katrien Aerts
6) Jess Cumming
7) Anais Caradeux
8) Rebecca Hammond
9) Claudia Neuweiler
10) Sarah Pinton
11) Serena Woods
12) Claudia Bouvier

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About the author:
Shay Williams is the former Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He now works full-time with Monster Energy, and continues to contribute to freeskier.com, offering insights re: the lives of his Monster athletes.