2020 marked the first spring in over a decade without an Audi Nines, Nine Knights, Nine Queens or indeed, Nines of any kind. Yes, Covid-19 took out the Nines last year—although we still marked the occasion with this retrospective looking back at 13 years of insane snowpark innovation.
Thankfully, the news looks brighter in 2021: after a scramble to find a resort partner willing to host the event on short notice, the Nines have landed in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, where a mind-boggling new setup is already rising out of the snow. Mark your calendars for April 7-10, 2021, because the Nines are back and ready to let off some steam.
With a new host resort and a new Swiss snowpark partner (HelvePark, who’s assisting the traditional Nines builders Schneestern), this year’s setup looks even more insane than usual. We’ll have more photos and a full design overview to share soon, but until then, here are a few sneak peeks of the build.
Photos courtesy of Audi Nines
The setup includes a "knuckle jib" with a massive snow sphere, leading into the main jump zone. More details to come...
Forget castles and UFOs—this year's setup looks different than ever before.
The full course overview will be out in a few days, but we can already tell you this much: the two main jumps face in opposite directions, and should make for quite the visual spectacle.
Due to pandemic restrictions, the rider’s list is somewhat curtailed this year—in fact, it’s been cut roughly in half. Nevertheless, the Nines have still lined up an all-star roster of skiers to session this creative snow playground.
The marquee name this year is none other than Henrik Harlaut, who will make his first appearance at the Nines in several years. He’ll be backed up by all-stars including Alex Hall, Jesper Tjäder, Mathilde Gremaud, Eileen Gu, Maggie Voisin, David Wise, Porteous and more. Sadly there’s no “Become A Nine” contest this year, but the organizers have made sure to invite some exciting up-and-comers to keep things fresh. So far, that includes style master Isaac Simhon aka EZ Panda, Czech madman Matej Svancer and Swiss contest monster Kim Gubser.
“It’s awesome that the Audi Nines is coming to Switzerland,” says Mathilde Gremaud. “This event is always about fun and good vibes, and Crans-Montana is a great place for that.”
Henrik Harlaut at the 2009 Nine Knights. Was this the last time he made an appearance at a Nines event? Photo: Pally Learmond
After setting a world record, then promptly breaking his leg 2 years ago, American halfpipe legend David Wise will be back in action in Crans-Montana. Photo: Florian Breitenberger
Since this list came out there have already been some changes, including the addition of Kim Gubser.
“We’re stoked and incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to pull this event off,” says Nines founder Nico Zacek (of Teddybear Crisis fame). “For us this year is about the camaraderie, fun and progression of a classic spring session, as a reminder to us all why we love what we do.”
In other words, this year’s Nines will be what the event always should have been: a no-frills spring progression session, with a sick setup and a sick crew, and no extra bells and whistles like a Big Air contest or world-record attempts. Who knows—maybe the pandemic, in its own way, will help this classic event get back to its roots.
Hold your horses, Nines fans in the vicinity of Crans-Montana: due to the pandemic, this year’s event will remain strictly off-limits to the public. As always, you can keep track of all the action from the Nines on Instagram and YouTube. And we’ll be sure to share the highlight edits here on Downdays once they’re out.
Need a refresher of what Audi Nines is all about? Here’s a grab bag of our favorite videos from the last snow event back in 2019.