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Suzuki Nine Queens 2016: Midweek Update

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The Queens are back in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Austria, and the castle is under heavy siege.

Suzuki Nine Queens. Another year. Year six, to be exact. Six years of the world’s biggest female-only freeskiing (and now snowboarding) media extravaganza and progression session on a castle-themed feature in the Austrian heights of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. So what’s new?

nikki blackall

Nikki Blackall dropping in. Photo: David Malacrida

maggie voisin

Maggie Voisin enjoys her first Nine Queens appearance. Photo: Malacrida

Well, there’s another castle. One with five takeoffs. No hip landings this year—clean-cut, straight walls, looking more like a Nine Knights castle than the ladylike Queens castles of years past.

There’s a side feature. A snow rainbow/butter pad contraption with a wide underpass underneath. Gap to down box on the left, down-flat-down rail and down rail on the right, six battlement towers around the perimeter. The arch is one of the most impressive yet built by the Schneestern shape crew, and it’s so big that it’s starting to sag. (Each night the shapers stick metal supports underneath it so it doesn’t sink further, and they’ve already had to refill the top of the pad once so it stays a rainbow, rather than sagging flat.)

keri herman

The arch may sag, but it won’t break—snow is an incredible building material. Oh yeah, and that’s Keri Herman. Photo:  Malacrida

There’s a few dozen of the world’s best female freeskiers and snowboarders. Some of them Suzuki Nine Queens veterans, like Keri Herman, who’s been to all six, and the energetic duo of Emma Dahlström and Coline Ballet-Baz. Some new faces, like American Maggie Voisin, Swiss Giulia Tanno, and Norwegian Johanne Killi—she of the blunted 900s.

It’s day three already—how time flies! Highlights so far, both positive and negative: Killi’s immaculate cork 900s. Maggie Voisin, Emma and Coline: lots of blunts and cubans grabbed. Slovakian Zuzanna Stromkova with a brutal crash on a rodeo 900—sidelined for the time being. Claudia Medlova falls off the side of the kicker from six meters up, somehow emerging intact. Coline and Emma play a mini-game of SLVSH—loser has to jump into the ice-cold creek outside the hotel. (Coline takes the plunge.) Dania Assaly runs the yoga sessions.

emma dahlstrom

Emma Dahlström, dropping in. Photo: Malacrida


The girls getting their stretch on. Photo: Malacrida

Yesterday: skies clearing after last night’s storm, still chilly and breezy—enough so to keep the jump closed. Instead, a session on the side feature. Girls are tail-pressing and hand-dragging the rainbow, 270ing and switch 270ing onto rails and boxes, dropping into the feature in trains as the drones buzz overhead like angry wasps and the camera people elbow for position and shout at each other to get out of the shot.

Suzuki Nine Queens founder and organizer Nico Zacek is in the midst of it all—coordinating drops, directing camera angles, keeping the stoke alive. “There’s no B&E [Invitational] for the girls, there’s no JOI [Jon Olsson Invitational] for the girls,” he says. “They only have Suzuki Nine Queens when it comes to having a passion-fueled event.”

emma dahlstrom

Emma gaps to the down box. Photo: Malacrida

johanne killi

Johanne Killi, looking for the pretzel. Photo: Malacrida

giulia tanno, nikki blackall

Stoke levels: high. Photo: Malacrida

Yesterday, Zacek says, that passion was in the air. “A three-hour session on a small jib feature and we had the best time ever,” he says. “The girls teamed up: selfie here, selfie there, GoPro here, GoPro there—get funny shots, laugh, music, party, good spirits, and that’s what this event is about.”

Two more days to go, and today’s sunrise session started at 5:00am. No rest for the weary—see you on the other side.


March 16, 2016

nine queens, Serfaus, Suzuki

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