Mike Riddle and Sarah Burke win the Orage Euro Open Pipe
After a couple days of qualifiers, filled with the lows of bad weather and the highs of superb riding, today was the day that it would all go down in the Laax Superpipe. The Orage European Freeskiing Open pipe finals had arrived, with 12 women and 48 men in tow.
The first to go down were the semi-final rounds, which were a bit foggy and cloudy, which we’ve come to expect here in the am at the Laax Resort. On the womens side, Roz G. took the top qualifying spot, with her corked 900s, and both-side spins, followed by Sarah B. with her smooth, clean and big airs. When all was said and done, Hudak, Anais Carradeux, Kristi and loc-dog Virginie Faivre received tickets to the big show.
On the mens side of things, it was a bit dicier, as 3/4 of the field would be eliminated between the two heats of 24 men (top 6 each advancing). With runs ranging from small tech, to big and stylie, and everything in between, the judges had their work cut out for them this morning. While most competitors took a pretty serious attitude to their runs (as they should), Canada’s Joe Schuster skied shirtless, boosted 900s, and claimed super hard… giving everyone a bit of a laugh and confirming that skiing is still about fun â€” even in Europe. In the end, experienced pipe riders like Mike Riddle, Justin Dorey, Xavier Bertoni, AJ Kemppainen wee joined with new pipe chargers such as Oscar Harlaut, Reto Comincioli and Matt Margetts. The mens finals hosted riders from 6 countries, giving it a truly international feel.
During the practice round and slipping for finals, the sun decided to bust out of the clouds, giving way to breathtaking views and awe inspiring landscapes, all at our fingertips at the bottom of the pipe. With the sun shining and crowd worked up, the women dropped in first. Jen Hudak’s big airs, alley oop 5, and bottom hit 720 dropped her nicely into the 3rd spot. Roz G kept her run the same as in semis (with a 900, right and left spins and a 720), just took it with more heat, eventually landing her into the 2nd place spot. It was Sarah Burke, whose very large 900, very large airs and 720 at the bottom, has once again kept her on top of that podium. Sarah, who along with all the other women, was all smiles and surely stoked on her win.
The men definitely stepped up their game as well in the sunshine. Lyndon Sheehan boosted larger than any other competitor today, AJ Kemppainen and his sickeningly smooth style showed us he will be a huge prospect in the future, Matt Margetts proved that even Zach Morris look alikes can ride pipe and Kalle Leinonen slapped us with such floaty alley oop flat 360s that people will be talking about it tomorrow.
BC’s Justin Dorey upped his game by floating an alley oop flatspin to right 360, to switch down the pipe 1080 to right 900 to 1080 landed him on top of the podium in 3rd place â€” quite a unique run deservedly so. France’s Xavier Bertoni, who has been on the podium more than a few times this year, took his lofty switch down the pipe 720 and right 1080s all the way to the bank, and 2nd place. But Mike Riddle, who has found his game again this year, dropped back-to-back 540s, the cleanest, biggest 1080 in the game, and a massive switch alley oop 900 on us. Riddle has shown that he has got his pipe legs back and everyone should take note.
The awards were winding down, the champagne had been poured, the checks distributed, and the sun setting over a pristine, gorgeous Swiss landscape, the Orage European Freeskiing Open draws closer to its finale. With sunny weather on hold for tomorrow, the slopestyle finals are sure to go off.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final results.
Check out the Orage European Freeskiing Open site!
1) Mike Riddle
2) Xavier Bertoni
3) Justin Dorey
4) Kalle Leinonen
5) Matt Margetts
6) Vivien Theiry
7) Oscar Harlaut
8) AJ Kemppainen
9) Lyndon Sheehan
10) Sbrava Guillaume
11) Reto Comincioli
12) JF Houle
1) Sara Burke
2) Rosalind Groenewoud
3) Jen Hudak
4) Anais Carradeux
5) Virginie Faivre
6) Kristi Leskinen
About the author:
Shay Williams is the Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He loves cheeseburgers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sweden. He's likely on a plane right now—first class only.