Felix Usterud, Antti Ollila, Klaus Finne and more battle their way into the semi-finals under a blazing blue sky at the European Freeski Open LAAX.
It seems like this year has been a good year for slopestyle competitions. Creative courses, innovative tricks — the slopes just seem like they’ve been popping off in 2016, for whatever reason.
Today in Laax, the reasons were obvious: fantastic weather and snow conditions, a top-notch slopestyle course with several innovative features, and a stacked field of 110 male competitors hungry to fight their way into the semi-final round of this year’s European Freeski Open LAAX.
The EFO is back and better than ever for its ninth iteration, as evidenced by the massive hordes of skiers that descended on the Laax park today, either to compete, watch their friends compete, or just shred the P60 snowpark until complete exhaustion set in. On the slopestyle course, Laax’s immaculate pro jump line was supplemented with an awesome roller feature that replaced the usual second rail option, as well as a massive quarterpipe with optional redirect lip at the bottom of the course, leading into a final “uphill” rail feature to round out this impressive slopestyle offering.
For the 110 men who dropped into today’s four qualifying heats, chances were high that they’d be finding themselves lapping the park alongside the slopestyle course in the days to come—only four men from each heat of 27 to 28 riders would advance. Not the best odds, especially considering some of the talents in the field.
Finnish styler Antti Ollila took the top spot in Heat 1, followed by Teal Harle and Matthew Wilcox of Canada, while Trym Andreasson of Norway slipped into the heat’s fourth and final qualifying spot. In Heat 2 it was Norway’s Felix Usterud on top, ahead of Alex Hall (USA), Taylor Wilson (CAN) and Vincent Schmid (SUI).
In heat 3, Christian Nummedal and Klaus Finne brought home the one and two spots for Norway (Note: there were 29 Norwegians in the field today—somebody must have chartered a plane or something), while Nendo Lehmann of Switzerland and Pontus Nordström of Sweden rounded out the top four. And in the day’s final heat, Quentin Ladame of France took top honors, followed by Wille Borm (USA), John Brown (IRL) and Noah Morrison (CAN).
For the full results from today’s qualifications, click here.
All in all, it wasn’t just a big day for the Norwegians, Canadians, Americans and Swiss who successfully skied their way into the semi-finals. It was a big day for anyone who had the pleasure of basking in the warm spring sun on the Crap Sogn Gion, watching this fantastic slopestyle event go down live.
Cheers to those who qualified, and we’ll see you on the course tomorrow for semis!
(Hey riders, feel free to use our shots on social media – just tag us!)