Friday, January 26, 2007

Torah Wins Gold on Australia Day

Torah Bright, Winter X games '06 silver medalist in the half-pipe has done one better this year by smashing all competition and picking up the gold in the half-pipe.

In a field which saw Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic gold medalist, return to the X Games in her own backyard after skipping last year. The plethora of talent was illustrated by the presence of Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter, Molly Aguirre, Kjersti Oestgaard Buaas and Elena Hight, all of whom made it to the final.

The mood this year has been one of tranquility in comparison to the pressure of last year's event where the five rings were the only subject on everyones mind. However the ambience at this year's event seems to be more relaxed, allowing the riders to mix it up more.

With the runs that were being put down, you wouldn't have guessed that the girls were taking it easy. Kelly Clark's monstruous straight airs and Kjersti's emphatic air to fakies as well as more 720's than you could shake a large stick at, not to mention several 900's, this was not a competition for the light-hearted.

A first run of stunning grace and technical brilliance marred only by a slight sit down, meant Torah scored an 85. This was followed by a super run by Bleiler of 91 which included a 9 on her first hit. Elena Hight came in behind with a run that included a bs 9 and fs 7, but could only put her third.

So it was up to Torah to raise the bar on her last run. Showing competitive nous, she avoided going big with a 9, but instead focused on putting down a run that was as smooth as buttermilk. Starting with a big tail grab air to fakie, followed by a cab 720, frontside McTwist, bs 3 with Truckdriver, bs 540, and then as the cherry, a switch bs 540 which sealed the victory.

A super-stoked Torah said after her winning run:

"I'm pretty ectstatic right now. It's good to have so many Aussies out here with me. I came here to put on a show!"

With this victory against a field dominated by Americans in front of a home crowd, Torah has shown once again that she is unquestionably one of the best female pipe riders in the world at the moment. Props are due to an athlete who has the ability to raise her game when it matters, and to pull it off with such style demonstrates irrepressible talent and guts.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Nike ACG UK Team Update

It’s been a frustrating few weeks in the Alps thanks to very limited snow but as ever the Nike ACG UK Team are out in force and making a lot of noise on their adventures. Here’s a quick update on the gang:

Dan Wakeham
Dan’s out with a bunch of the European team, as well as fellow UK riders Angus Leith and Rebecca Cullum, at the Burton European Open in Laax. He has been riding hard since arriving from the World Champs in Arosa and went through 2 boards in as many days. However it hasn’t held him back and he’s safely in to the semi finals tomorrow after a strong display in the qualifying heat earlier today.

The Half-pipe comp in Arosa was frustrating for all the guys. Thanks to bad weather and plenty of rain the schedule was disrupted badly and the practice and qualifying were both held together as opposed to over consecutive days. Dan slammed on his first (and only qualifying run) hurting his wrist, but it’s certainly not holding him back in Laax at the moment. Check out this shot from Tash of him sessioning the pipe during practice:

Prior to heading across to Arosa Dan did a few days filming for a 6 part series which is going out on Extreme before long. Dan gives an insight into what it takes to be a pro rider and how he gets the most out of his riding. We’ll have news on when it airs soon.

In additional Dan’s bagged the latest cover of Document Snowboard. It’s a shot taken on the Saas Fee glacier in the summer during the British Team training camp by Mike Weyerhaeuser. Nice work Dan.

Angus Leith

Angus has been on the road with Dan over the past few weeks, taking in his first World Champs in Arosa as well as the BEO. It’s a great level of progression from the Europa Cups and Angus is getting bags of invaluable experience out of it.

Angus didn’t make it through the qualifiers today but has taken a huge amount from his first Burton Open event. There will be many more to follow.

Rebecca Cullum

Rebecca’s flying the flag for the Nike ACG team in the junior’s category at the BEO. She was entered into the slopestyle earlier this week which was unfortunately cancelled due to storm force winds. She was in action in the pipe yesterday however and bagged a very respectable 11th place. This will give her a real boost to push on during the season in a category that is not her main strength.

Rebecca is also following in the footsteps of Zoe by competing in the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOWF) in Jaca, Spain from 18th -23rd February. Rebecca has been working closely with Zoe to hone her SBX skills and will also be competing in the pipe.

Zoe Gillings

Zoe was laid low with a heavy cold in the build up to the World Champs in Arosa. Frustratingly for her, she was unable to take pharmacy stocked cold remedies due to doping restrictions and she had to shake it off herself. It meant she wasn’t fit enough to train fully on the course prior to the event. She did however place a very respectable 20th under the circumstances and duly handed the cold over to Craig Smith who she says complained ‘way more’ than she did.

Zoe has been out in Aspen for a couple of days now in preparation for her XGames debut. Having been more of a spectator at the World Champs she may well find she will be able to surprise a number of competitors as opposed to being a target for the other girls. Watch this space and keep your fingers crossed…

Noddy Gowans

Noddy’s been busy setting up his own film production company in Serre Chevalier over the early season. Given the poor snow conditions it’s been a very productive few weeks for him.

His reward however will be 2 weeks out in the powder fields in Canada where he is just about to shoot a major heli trip for a wide range of publications. Expect to hear a lot more from this trip through Fall Line and a host of International media well into next season.

Fingers crossed when Noddy gets back to Serre Che the snow will have arrived across Europe and he can start charging on home pow again.

Paddy Graham

Paddy’s early season form shows no sign of letting up. Since his win over in Les Diablerets last month he has returned to slaying the pipe in Laax as well as hitting the road for a couple of trips. Of note was his appearance in Engadine where he grabbed 3rd at the Big Air there amongst some illustrious company (including Murray Buchan no less). It’s great to see Paddy continue to dominate across disciplines. With podiums in Big Air and slopestyle already this season you wonder what he’s going to start doing in pipe comps…

That is if any survive the weather. Unfortunately several World Cup pipe events have fallen victim to the lack of snow already this season. Paddy is hopeful however of getting a couple of comps in before the Brits and the Orage European Open, both of which will take place in Laax again this season.

Other news from Paddy is that he’s secured his second cover of the season (look out for the new Dark Summer). It’s a shot taken in Les Diablerets soon after he won the slopestyle out there. Also- Paddy’s been spending some time in the dentist’s chair recently thanks to a big spill whilst riding trees. Check out the picture below- Paddy managed to imbed his tooth in his knee and snap it at the root! Ouch

Murray Buchan

Muz spent a fortnight out filming and riding with Chris Asquith and Paddy in Laax over the New Year Period. He was also hoping to make it over to a couple of World Cup half-pipe comps earlier this month but had to contend with similar frustration to Paddy.

However, both the guys headed out to Engadine together and Muz put down some tidy runs. He had something to say about the judges putting a local fella into the finals who wasn’t pulling anything near Muz’s switch 7s though. Don’t be fooled, he’s still a wee man but you wouldn’t mess with him when he’s got poles in his hand and a lid on his head in that mood. Needless to say though he’s wise beyond his years and was more than happy with the riding he put down, even if it didn’t get due credit!

Murray is back at school for a couple more weeks before he jumps back on a flight out of Edinburgh and into the hills over his half-term break.

That’s all for now but look out for more updates on the BEO and XGames soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Andreas in Podium Finish at US Open

Nike ACG Team skier Andreas Hatveit has proved himself once again as one of the best freeskiers in the world by taking third in the slopestyle event at the US freeski Open.

Some of you might remember TJ Schiller's switch 1440 at last year's event in the Big Air, which should give you an idea of just how high the standard of riding is at the US Open. This years field was no less intimidating. With Jon Olsson taking first and PK Hunder second it was up to young Andreas to raise his game and storm into third with a second run of 90.0 in the final.

Elsewhere Roy Kittler, another ACG skier, took 9th in the slopestyle.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Watch the Biggest Comp of the Year for FREE!

Thats right, in our digital age the prospect of watching the biggest European Snowboarding competition live and for free is not a dream, but in fact a reality. All you will need is your computer, a decent internet connection, loads of beer, and, tissues for all the thrills and spills that promises to be this years Burton European Open.

To catch all the action for the mens halfpipe final on Saturday 27th, live and Direct from Laax, Switzerland go to

As you probaly know, Nike ACG and British riders Dan Wakeham, Angus Leith, and Rebecca Cullum are all taking part as are other ACG riders Gary Zebrowski, Henning Marthinsen and Ulrik Badertscher. For the Nokia Team only Mathieu Crepel is representing, but hot from his brace of golds in Arosa, he could be pushing all the other riders out of the lunch queue....

The bad news is that the competition organisers, due to adverse conditions, have cancelled the slopestyle events and thus we shall have to do with only the halfpipe, still, with Shaun White coming to stay it shouldn't be all that bad.

So for a proper Mexican-themed snowboarding extravaganza get stuck in this Saturday.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hampus Wins On Nokia 'Home Turf'

Nokia Team Rider Hampus Mosesson stole the show at the Red Bull Nanshan Open this weekend.

The only Chinese stop-over on the TTR World Tour is at the Nokia Nanshan Mellow Park at Nanshan Resort, Beijing. Hampus was the sole Nokia Team Rider on show with Mathieu, Cheryl and Nicolas riding in Davos but he did the team proud. His winning run was a hefty a backside 720, frontside 360 shifty, rounded off with a techy 360 jib off the drum at the end of the course. Along with the title, Hampus bagged 550 TTR Ranking Points.

Congratulations on the title Hampus and commiserations for the flight home!

Nicolas, Cheryl and Mathieu shred the O’Neill Evolution in Davos

Nokia Team Riders Nicolas Müller, Cheryl Maas and Mathieu Crepel were representing at the O’Neill Evolution in Davos this weekend. Nicolas walked away with the QP title and both Mathieu and Cheryl stunned the crowds with some amazing riding of their own.

The pipe contest was closely fought out in both the men’s and women’s categories. In the semi finals Cheryl threw down some massive airs as well as a Haakon flip and really brought the competition to life. However, she had a nasty looking bail in the finals and wasn’t able to re-produce her earlier form which surely would have seen her take the title.

Over in the men’s final, Mathieu and Antti Autti were nailing back-to-back 10s off their first 2 hits and attacking the pipe really hard. Mathieu was eventually placed 5th although he was putting down runs that had the whole collection of technical tricks. Check out one of his final runs here:

Nicolas didn’t compete in the pipe as he was still recovering from a heavy fall at the Nissan X-Trail in Japan last month. In fact, he didn’t even ride in the QP practice. Needless to say though, the Swiss Style Master was immediately setting the pace. His second run in the finals was a perfectly executed McTwist which was at least 5 metres out. Nicolas was clearly buzzing as he dropped in with Travis Rice on his next run to do a tandem hit. The vibe from riders and the crowd alike was electric and set the tone for a huge after-party which ran into the early hours. Nicolas’ winning run can be seen here:

Videos captured with my Nokia N93 phone. Podium shot by Tash.