Two things are for sure: One: the event started by German freeski pro Nico Zacek back in 2008 has been through a lot of names and title sponsors. Suzuki, Fiat, Audi, Knights, Queens Royals, Nines. And two: No matter what you want to call it, the nines remains in a class of its own.
In 2023, the latest reboot of the Nines franchise is headed for Schilthorn: From 17–22 April 2023, the resort in Switzerland's Bernese Alps will host the first edition of the SWATCH NINES.
Alex Ferreira getting down at the 2022 Nines in Crans-Montana. Photo: Theo Acworth
As always, there's lots to look forward to. With input from their new partner Swatch, the Nines design team is moving forward with last year's approach of creating more organic, rounded shapes, instead of the hard-cut edges that have defined past events. Our sources inside Nines say that the ultimate goal is a "Holy Bowly on steroids." Meanwhile, a "retro-futurist" theme will introduce a few new tweaks that are sure to continue pushing the envelope of creative snowpark design.
Just the tip: Mac Forehand goes up and over. Photo: Theo Acworth
Needless to say, the Swatch Nines will once again host an eclectic mix of top talent from skiing, snowboarding and beyond. Of course, big names from the contest circuit like Mathilde Gremaud, Jesper Tjäder and co. are on board again. However, in the spirit of the changing direction mentioned above—more organic, flowy shapes and a more playground feel—the riders list is also expected to expand to more outside-the-box riders. Word on the street is that The Bunch are getting an invite...
Swatch team rider Nico Vuignier has played a role in helping design this year´s features. He also helped come up with last year´s Swatch feature. Photo: Acworth
Want to get your own little piece of Swatch Nines? There's a few different ways to do so.
First, you can show up to Schilthorn on the 22nd of April for the Public Day. This is an open exhibition where the riders will throw down for the crowd on the setup they've been sessioning all week long. Whatever you do, don't call it a contest! Although there's no pressure to win a medal or stand on a podium, the riders always get excited to perform for the public, so you can expect a good show.
Second, if you want get your name on the riders list, there are two different routes to do so this year. You can send in a video via the Become A Nine contest, which is accepting entries until 26 March.
New this year, you can also qualify for the Nines through the World Rookie Tour. The four tour champions—men, women, ski and snowboard—will each receive a Nines wildcard.