Davos, Switzerland, 5 January 2009. With the New Year now ushered in, the anticipation is building in the Swiss mountain town of Davos for the TTR 6-Star O'Neill Evolution. The 120 riders are gathering at the foot of the Jakobshorn for an O'Neill Evolution like no other, as full details of the spectacle kicking off 2009 have been revealed.
Among the highly competitive field is current TTR World Tour leader Chas Guldemond who will be looking to defend his lead against Janne Korpi who is also competing. Last year's quarterpipe winner, Kim-Rune Hansen will also be looking for a repeat performance. Seb Toutant is another rider to keep an eye on in Davos. The Canadian wonder-kid stunned everyone last year with his quarterpipe display before unfortunately succumbing to illness before the finals. "The quarterpipe looks awesome this year. It's got a lot more vert. I can't wait to get back on it," Seb said. "I am also stoked about the slopestyle – that is definitely my thing."
This year's O'Neill Evolution is all about defying gravity, and acclaimed shaper Claes Hoegstrom is back to ensure the world renowned 6-Star Evolution quarterpipe will help the riders do exactly that. "We have made the quarterpipe 10.2m high this year. It's got more transition and less compression so you need more speed – so we've also made the in-run longer" Claes explains. "The idea is I want the riders to go higher."
Claes is also responsible for the new 5-Star TTR slopestyle course, taking the place of the halfpipe for 2009. The Evolution slopestyle course will feature a rail at the top, two kickers in the middle, and a wall with a small quarterpipe at the bottom. It is all Canadian inspired with a log tree rail and pine trees at the start gate. "It's a short fast course, which will challenge the riders," says Claes, "The idea was to make a compact but entertaining course so that everyone watching can see the entire run. It will be exciting especially with the knockout round format."
In addition, the first kicker will slowly be carved into an intricate ice sculpture throughout the competition – the creation to be revealed in the finals. And DJ Idem along with a VJ will set up within the slopestyle course to entertain the riders as well as the thousands of spectators who turn up for the evening floodlit event. Monitoring the success of the various attempts to run with gravity will be the Quarterpipe Height Measuring System as developed by Swatch and successfully introduced at the O'Neill Evolution last year.
For 2009 on-screen graphics will highlight the rider's achievements in the quarterpipe. Also new for this year, their speeds will be measured – and now doubt marveled over – at the run-in as well as at the take-off at the coping. Some of the riders will also sport heart-rate monitors, so there will be no pretending to play it cool on either the quarterpipe or the slopestyle for the guys. Qualifications start on Wednesday January 7. With the $100,000 prize purse and the much sought after TTR ranking points on offer, the riders won't be holding back.
RIDERS The confirmed 14 invited riders (2 more to be confirmed) are:
In a break from the norm, The O'Neill Evolution will be using a new heat system – based on that of a surf contest. 4-man heats will start in the round of 32 snowboarders, and from the round of 18, this will be down to 2-man heats to determine the finalists and the winner. Changing over to this K.O. system will guarantee an exciting contest with a clear undisputed winner.
Mon 05 Jan Training
Tue 06 Jan Training
Wed 07 Jan Slopestyle Qualification
Thu 08 Jan QP Qualification
Fri 09 Jan Slopestyle Finals
Sat 10 Jan QP Finals