Orage European Open by Swatch, Halfpipe '09 - Ski Union

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Orage European Open by Swatch, Halfpipe ’09

Saturday was a beautiful day. With a perfect blue sky and faultless pipe at Laax, it didn’t look like it could get any better, then the competitors turned up and proved all that completely wrong. This was hands down one of the best freestyle comps we’ve ever seen. The pipe was bulletproof (apparently that’s how the riders like it) and as a result getting speed, and more importantly maintaining it was not a problem, so the crowds were treated to massive hit after massive hit. Below is a run down of the action, and a couple of shots Pally managed to score at the event…

Pipe perfect

The 12 women and 12 men competing in the finals laid down 2 runs each, all displaying impressive tricks worthy of Europe’s best Superpipe on the Crap Sogn Gion. Driving the world’s best freeskiers to stick killer runs was the prestige of securing one of the precious podium spots as well as a share of the US$50,000 prize purse.

Xavier Bertoni busting out

Swiss girl Virginie Faivre (3 times Orage European Freeski Slopestyle Champion) was at her best, faultlessly pulling off tricks such as a leftside 540, a rightside 540 and a switch alley Oop 540, deservedly earning the title of Freeski Queen of LAAX. «I am so happy, that every time I am at the European Freeski Open, it works out so well for me. I love the Event in LAAX and I am going to be there next year for sure. Tonight I will celebrate and buy Champagne for me and my friends with the prize money.» Brit Emma Lonsdale landed in second place, a repeat performance from her 2007 result here in Laax. Canadian Roz Groenewoud managed to slip into third place after a killer second run which pushed Mirjam Jäger from Switzerland down into fourth place.

Jossi Wells throwing down


Pete Olenick, off the wall

The men also displayed an impressive performance in the Halfpipe, amazing the crowd as well as team managers and organizers. The 12 freestyle competitors threw down combinations of 540s, 720s, 900s and 1080s executed with every grab in the book. Matthew Philippi from Charlestown/USA kicked off with a switch leftside 1080 tail grab, two rightside 900 tail grabs, a leftside 1080 mute grab, a switch rightside 720 tail grab and a leftside 900 nose grab. Philippi was awarded 92.20 out of a possible 100 points. “I am so happy with my run. It was probably the best competition day of the year – a beautiful and sunny day in Switzerland.” 2009 X-Games Winner, Xavier Bertoni from France, narrowly missed the top spot landing in 2nd place for the 2nd year in a row. Orage Teamrider Taylor Seaton, also from the US, landed in 3rd place with a point score of 89.20, which secured a massive smile from the American.

Virginie checking out the crowd

Matt Philippi claiming the title

Results Halfpipe Finals, 21.3.2009, LAAX:
1. Virginie Fiavre/SUI – O’Neill 92.60
2. Emma Lonsdale/GBR – Movement 83.60
3. Roz Groenewoud/CAN – Rossignol 82.80

1. Matthew Phiippi/USA – Völkl 92.20
2. Xavier Bertoni/FRA – Rossignol 90.80
3. Taylor Seaton/USA – Orage 89.20

Photos Pally Learmond


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