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Saas-Fee Freeride Just Wrapped

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Story by SaasFreeride.com

Friday night was tense in Saas Fee. It was raining, and the glacier had been shut for two days because of the high temperatures and the adverse weather. But when we woke to clear skies on Saturday morning things started to look up. The park shaping crew have been known to perform miracles in the past, and this year was no exception. In spite of the slushy conditions they had managed to keep the park in tact.

 

The international competitor field soon went to work on the table top that was to be the setting of this years Big Air. After a while it became clear that this was going to be a tough competition. The standard was high; Arnaud Kugener (FRA) was pulling out some stylee spins, Henrik Harlaut (SWE) threw down a switch 9 effortlessly, while Brits such as the current national champion, Paddy Graham, looked strong as well.

Judges, Martin Carr, Nick Southwell, and Seb Lounis had seen enough and signalled the beginning of the qualifying rounds. The level of riding was soon announced as Paddy Graham flew out of the bottom of the park backwards having landed a switch seven. Murray Buchan (UK) responded immediately by landing a switch 5 well beyond the knuckle. The riders seemed intent on pushing one another, and James Woods (UK) took the prize for effort, by tweaking his tail grab so hard that he pulled his ski clean off.

 

The women seemed comfortable on the kicker too, and Virginie Faivre (CH) made a couple of the guys look bad by stomping a perfect corked three to kick off the girls qualifier. Teri Spencer (UK) went massive, and previous winner Marta Ahrenstedt (SWE) showed amazing confidence. It seemed like an instant before the 40 odd competitive field had finished their qualifiers, and the judges looked uncomfortable trying to work out the ten male finalists and four women. In the end they reached a consensus and the best went back for another round.

The wind started to pick up and the snow was softening, but it didn't seem to affect the competitors and it seemed they had been saving the best for last. Murray Buchan overcame the slushy take off and stomped a switch nine with ease, Paddy Graham decided to get technical and pulled a corked nine tail grab to late shifty with so much style even the riders at the top shouted in appreciation.

Stephane Vaillant (FRA) held his grab all the way to touch down on his switch nine, and Samuel Favnet (FRA) responded in kind with the biggest jump of the day stomping an enormous switch 720 half way down the landing.

Then Henrik Harlaut stepped up to the plate. Henrik was defending his Saas Fee ride crown, and with this guy it was bound to get interesting. There was an attentive, almost nervous silence as he dropped into the kicker switch. Flying off the lip, he tweaked a mute and sent a massive 1260 out of sight and well beyond the knuckle. When he popped into view seconds later, clearly having stomped the hell out it, everyone realised who this years champion would be.

In the women's Virginie Faivre soon followed Henrik's example, by claiming the woman's title her title with a perfect cork 3 critical.

The night before it had seemed impossible, but everyone involved agreed that it had been another classic Ride Freesport event. The glacier had held up well, the park shapers had built a superb kicker, and as per usual the riding level was taken another step. Both champions vowed to come back to defend their titles again, and they will have to push the level even further to hold off the competition, so make sure you're there to see it!

 

FINALLY

Riders and organisers both agreed that the 5th edition of the Saas-Fee Ride was the best yet, especially considering the high temperatures this summer. The event pulled through the odds with the help of a few important factors; Europe 's best summer skiing glacier, the new design of the Snowpark and the extra efforts of snowpark shaper Nicklas Hoglund. Other thanks go to Prisca and Lars at the Saas-Fee Bergbahnen and Anja and the crew from Saas-Fee Tourism for hosting and supporting the event. Thanks also to all the people from the British Freeski Camps for working on the set up and break down.

Look forwards to seeing you all in October at the London Ride 07, 27th October 2007, Grand Hall, Kensington Olympia, London (part of the Metro Ski and Snowboard Show).

RESULTS:

Big Air

Men:  1st place – Henrik Harlaut (Sweden), 2nd Place – Samuel Favnet (France),
3rd Place – Stephan Vaillant (France)

Women:  1st Place – Virginie Favre (Suisse),  2nd Place – Marta Ahrenstedt (Sweden), 
3rd Place – Teri Spencer (UK)

 

For RIDERS FINAL RESULTS, click here

For PRESS RELEASES in English, French and German, click here

For VIDEO CLIPS from Saas-Fee Ride 2007, click here

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