Swatch Skiers Cup, Chile – 1 Month to go…
Two men on a mountain go head to head, again and again. The men are the world’s best freeride skiers. The mountains are the world’s best, too. There are 16 riders in all, 8 lead by Captain America, 8 under the command of Captain Europe. The field of battle has been chosen and the disciplines agreed: backcountry slopestyle and big mountain. The count-down to showdown is underway… It’s taken six years, but it’s finally going to happen. The first-ever Swatch Skiers Cup is set to take place in the Valle Nevada, Chile, September 5-12, 2011.
Knowing what they’re up against, Captain America and Captain Europe will have to choose their teams with care. They’ve got the world’s best freeriders to choose from – but how many riders are equally good in backcountry slopestyle and big mountain skiing? Each team is composed of 8 riders, including the Freeride World Tour’s top ranked riders from North America and from Europe. The North American team will include one rider from South America, and Team Europe one from Australia or New Zealand.
Captain America for this first Swatch Skiers Cup is Mark Abma, a professional freeskier from Whistler Blackcomb, B.C. looking forward to the first Swatch Skiers Cup, Mark had this to say: “Our sport is growing, we’ve got more and more talent to choose from, so it’s proving a challenge to choose a team that represents America. It’s already a unique opportunity to assemble the best and have them all in one location, and to top it off we get to ski alongside the top dogs from Europe. We’ll see some of the most progressive skiing to date by 16 people with a deep passion for sliding on snow.”
Team Europe’s Captain is Swedish freeride star Kaj Zackrisson. It was Kaj and his friend and countryman Sverre Liliequist who had the idea for the Swatch Skiers Cup in the first place, and he’s delighted to see their idea become a reality: “It will be so cool to bring together the best riders in Europe to face the Americans in a head to head match as a team. Competition skiing is usually very individual, so I think we’ll be all charged up with a nice team feeling—which should boost our skills to maximum!”
Disciplines Backcountry Slopestyle
Slopestyle is a freestyle discipline where the goal is to perform the most difficult tricks while getting the highest amplitude off the jumps. It is also important to perform different types of tricks instead of doing one great trick repeatedly. Back country slopestyle is held out in the back country and contains a mix of man made features and natural features.
Disciplines Big Mountain
Big mountain (freeride) skiing features untracked powder snow, heart-stopping cliff jumps, creative line choices and acrobatic moves. Now one of the leading trends in winter sports, freeride skiing has its own world championship, the Freeride World Tour, featuring the planet’s best athletes. Big Mountain competitions take place on challenging big mountain faces accessible only by helicopter—something completely different from the manicured slopes of traditional skiing. Given the high-risk nature of the competition, riders are required to wear safety equipment including helmet, back protection, back pack and avalanche safety gear (transceiver, shovel, probe).
Base camp for the Swatch Skiers Cup is Santiago de Chile, where the coin-flip and press conference (and a huge prize giving party, of course) will take place. The head to head competition takes place in the back country of Valle Nevado, about an hour from Santiago. Located in the heart of the Andes at 3,000 metres, Valle Nevado has more than 23,000 acres of skiable terrain, the largest such area in South America.
Stay tuned for what is set to be a battle of all ski battles…