And Takes Fifth TTR Ticket

American Andy Finch threw down a non-stop barrage of insane high altitude stompage to take out the O’Neill SB-Jam 2002 in front of a formidable riders list and 15,000 New Year’s Eve revelers. In an event with no second place, judged by the riders based on overall impression and best show, Finch was almost unanimously chosen as Ruler of the Night in front of a fired up Swiss Crowd. In taking out the O’Neill SB-Jam title, Finch also claimed his place at the Arctic Challenge in Lofloten, Norway by earning the fifth TTR medallion.

Initiator and main event rider, Dani Costandaché, left no stone left unturned ensuring the O’Neill SB-Jam 2002 was a veritable playground for snowboarding and saw 31 riders re-define competitive formats in a Jam session 45 minute night showdown. The action was intense on the range of snowboard implements including Superpipe, kickers and obstacles littered about the immaculately groomed course from training session onwards. Costi and the Jakobshorn team had gone to town.

The Superpipe was short, no more than three to four hits, but in perfect shape, most riders disappointed when training was finished. It also featured a serious hip entry on the frontside wall, a kicker entry and 3m high, 12-meter rainbow rail into the backside wall. It also included a two-toothed sizable booter, and a 6 to 2 to 6 meter kinked rail, and a 6 meter flat rail at the base of the pipe.

Training closed at 6 pm, riders dinner set to start at 7pm. No sooner had riders left the course, snow started to dump in the village, giving the entire site a winter and New Year feel, dumping almost 10 cm’s in the course of an hour, but causing no hindrance for the cat, pipe cutter or shaping crew.

While riders finished a hearty dinner and went through final instructions and format explanations, Costi and his crew were out ensuring the entire course was completely reshaped and perfect for the officially scheduled 10 pm training. The overall impression of the course following the fresh dump and re-shaping was sick, riders already amped and a capacity crowd had already formed. It was standing room only and most had come prepared with hot beverages and a small supply of drinks for the approaching New Year.

The judging and format of the event were simple and well understood by the riders, who were also in fact, the judges. It was about snowboarding, enjoying yourself and above all the best show.

There would only be one winner, that person being crowned SB-Jam Ruler of the Night. The event would be judged by riders based on overall impression and the best show on the night on all aspects of the park, pipe or rail setup.

Starting at 11pm on the dot, firstly the Superpipe would be lit for 15 minutes, straight afterwards lights would go onto the kicker and rail set up for 15 minutes, and finally the entire course would be lit for the final 15 minute snowboard frenzy and finish at 11:45 pm, just in time for prize giving and New Year fireworks.

By 10 pm, with Chris Bachmann (The Barman) the man on the mike, the crowd was fired up. Each rider proceeded to take an intro run through the pipe and the contest was on. Elijah Teter, on his first trip to Europe, started upping the ante almost immediately, with huge b/s air hip entries into the pipe to ally oop Mc Twists and Haakons, and going a long way to explaining his Snowboard Nations Junior World title. Xaver Hoffmann following suit, big off the hip, going for f/s 9′s on the last wall. The crowd started getting behind Swiss Champion, Reto Kestenholz who was riding big and burley, if not a little out of control at times, but was exciting to watch all the same. Joni Malmi, Eero Ettala and Iikka Bà¤ckström were making use of the kicker entry; Eero nailing f/s 7′s and f/s 5 entries to Haakon flip, and looked solid in the pipe all night. Mathieu Crepel, who had made the finals through qualifications, was also ruling in the Superpipe. Although he lacked aittle amplitude compared to some of the other riders, technically he was on fire, changing it up on each run. Inverted 7′s and ally oop 7′s probably his best. Gian Simmen and Dani Costandaché, backed by a very partisan crowd launched huge airs, Gian throwing in a couple of massive spins to boot to the appreciation and applause of the predominantly Swiss crowd.

Steve Gruber, a former Vice European and World Halfpipe Champion, who had seen a lot of filming duty in the past couple of years, was still a style master. Huge f/s and b/s airs, to massive ally oop and f/s 7 runs were saturated in serious steez, and Markku Koski was impressive all night, stomping 9′s and 10′s with ridiculous ease.

With 15 minutes gone, lights went down in the pipe and the kicker and rail came alive. With no surprise to anyone, Romain De Marchi attacked the kicker as he had in all of the previous trainings. Throwing down a massive f/s 7, stomped without thinking — is he really human? He bettered that next run with a f/s 9. Markku Koski, who was impressive in training didn’t manage to find the same stomp in the finals, although he nailed a b/s 3.

David Carrier Porcheron, who just got better as the event went on, swapped it up with a range of tricks, probably his best were inverted b/s 5′s stomped as if he meant it (which we assume he did). Jussi Oksanen fired up and went f/s 7′s, then went looking for a cab 9, but failed to land it cleanly, while Andy Finch continued his showmanship with a fully laid out back flip. Reto Kestenholz kept up the pressure with a huge super steez b/s 180, followed by inverted switch b/s 5′s. Meantime, Joni Malmi and Christoph Weber were sessioning the kinked rail, with a mixture of results. Eero, Iikka and Heikki were also holding it down, with German rookie Christoph Schmidt finding his legs and looking a real contender.

The whole show started to step it up after the 15 minutes on the kickers and rail. When the entire site was re-lit for the hell for leather final 15 minutes it was hard to work out what direction to look, and not being disappointed in any direction you decided on. Hailing from Zurich and attending the Snowboard academy in Davos, the only female in the main event, Lisa Beck, was getting rousing support from the crowd every run and impressed all. Gian Simmen and Dani Costandaché were pulling tandem lines, massive in height and technical to boot, f/s 5′s from kicker in to Haakon Flips, then swapping it up with huge hip entries — the crowd were going off. Some of the rookies who made it through qualification like Christoph Schmidt and Eirik Haugo were firing up in both the pipe and the kicker.

Nic Müller and Fredi Kalbermatten were pulling off run after run, swapping it up on every occasion, simply oozing with style. Kim Christiansen proving to be no slouch with his typical power style while Giacomo Kratter was getting all inverted in both pipe and kicker. Eero Ettala, Iikka Bà¤ckström and Heikki Sorsa were throwing down triple runs, entry from the kicker then swapping it up, it was getting even harder to work out what part of the course to watch. Every which way and on everything placed out there, the snowboarding was coming thick and fast.

By now the culmination of the event and the passing of the New Year were approaching. With 5 minutes to go, Andy Finch went what must have been a 6 to 7 meter Michealchuck entry into the pipe, following up with massive f/s inverted 9 to Mc Twist and nose pressed the 6 meter straight rail at the base of the pipe, just for the hell of it, which blew the appreciative crowd away. From the crowds point of view at least, it was clear there were only a couple of contenders left in the final decision. When 11:45 came round, and the lights dimmed on the course, all riders met at the bottom and gave their three names for Ruler of the Night. By the time 20 riders had voted the decision was a fore gone conclusion. Andy Finch lead by an insurmountable number of first choices, followed by impressive voting for Eero Ettala, Mathieu Crepel, Gian and Dani, Markku Koski and Heikki Sorsa.

While the final votes were being cast, the first ever TTR Medallion holder, Snowboard Nations Junior World Champion, Elijah Teter was presented his TTR Medallion in front a sea of faces stoked on the nights show, and stoked to see Elijah ride for the first time in Europe. As the seconds ticked down to midnight, Andy Finch was brought up onto the rail kicker, doubling as the podium in this case, to receive the Ruler of the Night award, the title of O’Neill SB-Jam ruler and the fifth TTR Medallion – earning him his ticket to the Arctic Challenge in April. Andy was elated, and the crowd definitely approving of the decision.

The fireworks were actually going off as the TTR medallion was being slipped over his head, roughly the same time he was being doused with Champaign by the other riders. Was it for the victory, or was it for the New Year, hard to say and it didn’t seem as if anyone cared! New Year had been brought in with an outstanding show of some of the best snowboarding on offer in the best possible spirit.

By 12:05, January 1st, 2003, the Jakobshorn pipe was filled from top to bottom with party worthy spectators. The night’s celebrations had just started in earnest and were not destined to end until well into the New Year. Riders joined the main party, and had their own room with no expense or beverage spared. The action on the course was only secondary to the action in the bar, and the night truly raged until memory loss was incurred all round.

A special mention has to be made for Dani Costandaché, who not only rode at every opportunity, but personally reshaped the course — shovel in hand – while the rest of the riders were chilling or taking hard earned breaks. He was the most impeccable host, last seen serving at the rider’s bar as the lights were going out. Who knows where he may have come in the contest had he not taken on the Herculean task of event organizer and rider. Thumbs up Costi — it was sick.

Andre Rellstab from Jakobshorn, and the Jakobshorn Team, not to mention Nadine at the housing booking service should all be thanked for creating one of the best places ever to snowboard into next year. We hope to see you 363 days from now for the same show. For all the happenings check: www.sb-jam.com t choices, followed by impressive voting for Eero Ettala, Mathieu Crepel, Gian and Dani, Markku Koski and Heikki Sorsa.

While the final votes were being cast, the first ever TTR Medallion holder, Snowboard Nations Junior World Champion, Elijah Teter was presented his TTR Medallion in front a sea of faces stoked on the nights show, and stoked to see Elijah ride for the first time in Europe. As the seconds ticked down to midnight, Andy Finch was brought up onto the rail kicker, doubling as the podium in this case, to receive the Ruler of the Night award, the title of O’Neill SB-Jam ruler and the fifth TTR Medallion – earning him his ticket to the Arctic Challenge in April. Andy was elated, and the crowd definitely approving of the decision.

The fireworks were actually going off as the TTR medallion was being slipped over his head, roughly the same time he was being doused with Champaign by the other riders. Was it for the victory, or was it for the New Year, hard to say and it didn’t seem as if anyone cared! New Year had been brought in with an outstanding show of some of the best snowboarding on offer in the best possible spirit.

By 12:05, January 1st, 2003, the Jakobshorn pipe was filled from top to bottom with party worthy spectators. The night’s celebrations had just started in earnest and were not destined to end until well into the New Year. Riders joined the main party, and had their own room with no expense or beverage spared. The action on the course was only secondary to the action in the bar, and the night truly raged until memory loss was incurred all round.

A special mention has to be made for Dani Costandaché, who not only rode at every opportunity, but personally reshaped the course — shovel in hand – while the rest of the riders were chilling or taking hard earned breaks. He was the most impeccable host, last seen serving at the rider’s bar as the lights were going out. Who knows where he may have come in the contest had he not taken on the Herculean task of event organizer and rider. Thumbs up Costi — it was sick.

Andre Rellstab from Jakobshorn, and the Jakobshorn Team, not to mention Nadine at the housing booking service should all be thanked for creating one of the best places ever to snowboard into next year. We hope to see you 363 days from now for the same show. For all the happenings check: www.sb-jam.com