Nico Zacek with winner Kai Mahler. Photo – Klaus Polzer
The highly anticipated Big Air competition of the Suzuki Nine Knights went down on Saturday at Mottolino Fun Mountain in Livigno, with many roaring spectators there to witness the spectacle. Many of the world’s best freeskiers turned up to the Italian resort to session the immaculate castle shaped to perfection by the dedicated Schneestern crew. The invited Knights had plenty of time to practice on the multi-feature “Il Castello”, with sunrise, sunset and even night shoots going down during the week. On Friday seven extra guys arrived to practice on the jump for the AFP Gold Level competition the following day.
The visibility and speed were a little bit difficult to deal with for the riders on competition day as the snow was very sticky and the light was flat most of the day. However the eighteen riders still pushed themselves as hard as possible during qualifiers. Only eight riders went through to the final, so the spots were highly contested with multiple different trick variations being put down on the large jump. After a short lunch break, all the finalists had five jumps on the kicker to show the judges their best two different tricks, with the combined points determining the overall score.
Gus Kenworthy. Photo – Klaus Polzer
All the riders performed exceptionally well in the difficult flat light conditions, however in the end it was the Swiss youngster Kai Mahler that took home the win with a super steezed out double cork 1260 double japan shifty and a double 1080 mute grab, tweaked to the max. “Competing against such a high caliber made me really step it up,” said Kai. “I am so stoked to have won here today at the Nine Knights Big Air!” In second place was American dominator Gus Kenworthy with a textbook switch double rodeo 1080 japan grab and a double cork 1440 blunt grab. Jonas Hunziker, also from Switzerland, rounded up the podium with a double cork 1080 double mute grab and a double cork 1260 safety grab.
The full list of results and counted tricks is as follows:
1) Kai Mahler (Dub 1080 Mute, Dub 1260 Dub Japan Shifty)
2) Gus Kenworthy (Sw Dub Rodeo 1080 Japan, Dub 1440 Blunt)
3) Jonas Hunziker (Dub 1080 Dub Mute, Dub 1260 Safety)
4) Russ Henshaw (Dub 1080 Japan, Sw Dub 1080 Japan)
5) Roy Kittler (Sw Dub Wobble 9 Mute, Bio 1440 Blunt)
6) Ben Valentin (Dub 1260 Tail, Dub 1080 Safety)
7) Christian Bieri (Dub Flatspin 900 Japan to Tail, Cork 7 Reverse Mute)
8) Colby West (Dub 1080, Sw Misty 900 Mute)
Raffa Cusini. Photo – KlausPolzer
It was a very successful event that put Italy on the map of the highest caliber of freeski contests. The atmosphere and the scenery on the mountain was truly spectacular at the thrilling Suzuki Nine Knights Big Air competition and it was a perfect ending to the fantastic Suzuki Nine Knights at Mottolino Fun Mountain. The event concluded on Saturday night with the photographers’ and riders’ awards presentation and a raging party in Livigno. Congratulations to all the competitors, we can’t wait to see you all again next year!
For more info visit: www.nineknightsski.com
Colby West. Photo – Florian Breitenberger
Contest Day 6. Photo – Florian Breitenberger