As far as prisons go, the one in Falun, Sweden ain’t so bad. The wall-to-wall three-foot mini ramp didn’t hurt the place¿neither did the mixing decks and speaker stacks. Conditions haven’t always been this comfortable, though. The place was built as a high-security prison back in 1850, but seeing as the gentlefolk of Sweden have been well-behaved as of late, the powers that be decided to allow snowboarders a stay of execution there. Perhaps they thought if things got out of hand, they could just close the gates, thereby saving the local police the hassle of throwing us in.

Declarations Of ConflictSpend some time on the international snowboarding front, and questions over which country spawns the best riders will undoubtedly come up. What starts off as a friendly discussion of merits can easily turn into “You suck, we rule!” and if the right kind of inebriants are involved, things may soon degrade into a full-on nationalistic brawl. Jacob Söderqvist had heard enough, so with the help of Rusty clothing, he organized a contest where each country could lay it down.

StratagemBased on an idea borrowed from golf’s Ryder’s Cup, Rusty’s Battle Of The Twin Towers (held March 14¿17, 2001) pitted four regions of the globe famous for producing a majority of snowboarding’s elite against each other in a no-holds-barred grudge match. Riders from Scandinavia, mainland Europe, Canada, and the U.S. competed for the chance to claim spraying rights as the best riders on the planet. Each zone appointed a team leader, who then recruited the troops to represent their particular area. Jean “Babs” Charlet was put in charge of the Europeans, Kale Stephens headed up the North Americans, Jacob led the wild-card team, while Ingemar Backman commanded the Scandinavians.The competition promised to be a unique blend of big air and slopestyle, with riders given the chance to win various individual titles.

Dogs Of WarArriving in Falun a couple of days before the contest, I ran into riders hanging around a park at the local ski resort called Bjursås and took quick stock of who might be on the offensive. There seemed to be an overabundance of Scanners and Euros, but what do you expect when you’re on this side of the globe?Talent and territorial pride ran deep for all of the regions except, ironically, the U.S. There was John Sommers and … well, he was about it. Where were all the riders? Practicing for the U.S. Open maybe? One thing’s for sure: they weren’t here throwing down for the Stars and Bars.

The BattlefieldWalking into this place was probably as close as one would ever come to being kidnapped by aliens. Seriously. Lycra-clad, bug-eyed Martians swarmed around two gigantor spaceship-docking towers. The towers were actually Olympic-style ski-flying jumps.

The booter was a ten-meter gap at least 40 feet high, and riders had to launch a solid 85 feet to hit the sweet spot in the landing. A small kicker at the top of the run-in allowed them to drop in with smooth, stylish half-Cabs and threes. Beneath the other jump, the run-in looked exactly the same except that it led to a tremendous 33-foot hip. Both jumps fed into a step-up box that riders 180′d or 360′d onto, followed by a ten-foot wooden wall with five feet of tranny. The shapers used six acres of snow to build this leviathan of a park.The run-in for the course, which was actually the landing for the ski jump, was super steep with length to match. Amped riders were driven up the side of it in the back of a big Chevy 4×4. If their lines happened to take them past the judges’ booth, they’d get hooted and hollered at, then literally run back to the truck to make another lap.

Looming about seventeen feet high and ten feet out with a tiny kicker at the lip, the cliff was perfectly set up, with the exception of the sketchy tranny. If you stuck something off of this, it was because you really stomped it.

Clash Of The Titans

A series of four heats, with one of theeams in the judges’ booth during each, determined the winners of the respective titles, as well as which team won overall. A post-contest review of all the jumps was viewed on film before the judges made their final decisions.

Heat One

The battle started with the United Wild Card team in the judges’ booth, the Euros, Scanners, Yanks and Canadians, and Guest Rippers on the field; and a large crowd of fans screaming from the stands. Freddi Kalbermatten fired an early warning shot with a backside five over the hip followed by a corked seven off the shoulder of the gap. The Scanners countered with Roger Hjelmstadstuen launching a backside seven over the gap and Ingemar lofting a huge method over the curvy booter. Sebu Kuhlberg covered ‘em. Europe delivered the heat’s final blows and captured the hill when Friedl Kolar detonated a frontside 900 and Steve Gruber tweaked a backside five Indy.

Heat Two

The Scanners launched an offensive. Sebu led the charge. Roger boosted a big backside 720 and followed it up with a frontside seven. Fredrik Sarvell Cabbed into the ramp to backside 540 over the gap. Ingemar went switch 540.

The North Americans appeared on the radar, attacking from above. Sommers dropped a rodeo backside seven, Jonaven Moore followed with a rodeo, and Frederick Berntsson let fly a backside 180.

The Wild Cards brought out the technical artillery when Stefan Karlsson unleashed a frontside 540 crail and Hampus Mosesson attacked with a backside 540 nosegrab. Mattias Blomberg flew aerial reconnaissance over the hip with a backside air. But despite the valiant efforts of the Wild Cards and the North Americans, the Scanners left this heat victorious.

Heat Three

Time for the Euros, Scanners, and Wild Cards to trade blows. The latter charged hard, with Jacob’s line consisting of a backside 360 to frontside 360 revert to jib off the wall. Hampus was right behind him with a backside 360 Japan. Mattias launched a backside air that led to a rodeo, and Stefan attacked with a frontside 540 crail, then boosted a huge air off the hip and was taken out by enemy flak, landing flat.

The Scanners fought back. Roger blasted a frontside seven revert. Sebu’s rounds included a frontside three to backside seven to wallride. Peter Ström executed a smooth Cab five. Sarvell covered the hip. Ingemar lofted mortars with a backside air to noseblunt over the box.

The Axis forces of Europe came rolling in with the heavy thunder. Wolle Nyvelt busted a backside seven nosegrab, and front and backside fives. Freddi was sniping from everywhere at once, firing a backside 540 cliff drop, and a 50-50 over the rail to backside 540. Dani Sappa turned Japanese. Friedl launched a frontside 540 double grab, and then hucked a backside 540 to a switch 720 that won best trick of the contest.

Heat Four

The final round. It was up to the North Americans and Wild Cards to put holes in the defenses of the Euros.

The NAs began the attack with Jonaven’s switch 720 rodeo. He followed it up with a railslide to backside air to 540. Kale’s barrage included a Cab 360 nosegrab, a Cab 540, and a switch backside seven. Frederick shot off a lethal backside 180 method, and Pascal Imhof’s frontside three stalefish to noseblunt over the box to wallride left the field in flames.

Meanwhile, the Wild Cards penetrated deep. Mattias busted out a rodeo seven over the gap. Hampus lobbed a backside 720. But it was Jacob who turned into the universal soldier with a frontside 540 mute, a Cab into a backside air over the hip, and a frontside 360 revert to jib over the table. He then threw down the winning line with his patented “Sauti” backside 470 mute tailbone off the little kicker to a frontside 540 mute tailbone over the gap to half-Cab onto the box 180 out to fakie frontside wallride, all clean, no hands.

Amidst the heated barrage from the Yank-Canadians and Wild Cards, the Euros kept their cool, returning every blow with three of their own. Freddi was absolutely destroying the course, frontside threes, backside 540 nosegrabs, backside five off the hip to 720 over the shoulder. Sappa threw a backside three off the cliff, a railslide to frontside five, and a sick frontside seven over the gap. Gruber’s runs included a backside 180, a corked backside five, and a backside seven. Friedl was a killing machine, executing a frontside five double grab, a switch 720, and a line that included a Cab five over the gap. Wolle threw down a corked frontside five, a backside seven, a backside five, and a backside three to backside disaster off the wall.

To The Victors Go The Spoils

Despite the strong show of firepower from the North Americans, Wild Cards, and Scanners, the allied Euro war machine was too strong to defeat.That night, every eligible woman within 60 miles showed up for the after-party. Douds Charlet (Babs’ brother) was far and away the King Mack Daddy lady-killer that night. In fact, he’s kind of like the Romain De Marchi of lady-killers: when he starts throwing down, even the most seasoned veterans stop to take notes.

Fair WarningBeware to those interested in visiting Falun in the future to check out the Twin Towers: even if you don’t get caught doing anything wrong, you might still end up on lockdown.

RESULTS (Sidebar)Ripper: Master Of Transitions (Best Overall)
Freddi Kalbermatten
Line Executor (Best Line)
Jacob Söderqvist
The Sniper (Best Trick)
Friedl Kolar
Space Traveler (Highest Air)
Mattias Blomberg
Smooth Operator (Most Stylish)
Kale Stephens
Jib Commander (Best Jib)
Wolle Nyvelt
Rubber Man (Best Tweak)
Dani Sappa

TransWorld: Congratulations, Freddi, you won the Best Overall Rider award.Freddi Kalbermatten: Thanks.

Describe the Twin Towers jumps.
First of all, I think the guy who built this park played too much Tony Hawk skateboarding. It just looks so massive: the big piles of snow, the gap¿it was crazy. The air time wasn’t that long, but the kicker was really high¿maybe fifteen meters 50 feet, really big¿but after a few tries, it was all right.

So did you like the contest?
Yeah, I really liked it¿no political shit going on like ISF or FIS, and it was judged by the riders.

Tell us about yourself just in case there are readers out there who don’t know much about you. Where are you from?
Saas Fe, Switzerland, but I don’t live there anymore. I just go riding there and chill out with friends. I really like to ride Saas Fe because I grew up there, so I know it really well. It’s a sick place, especially for freeriding and backcountry. We like to build big kickers.

Who do you ride with?
Nicolas Müller. He’s my best friend and rides Burton snowboards, too. I like his style; it’s the best. He makes everything look easy.

If you had a day with two meters seven feet of fresh powder …
I would ride the powder for sure.

… and there’s a perfectly cut superpipe.
No, no, no. I would choose the fresh powder for sure.

What’s the best place you’ve ever ridden?
It’s hard to say, there are so many good places. I went to Tahoe once and whew! That was cool. Also, Riksgrånsen. But it’s totally different. In Tahoe you have mountains, and in Riksgrånsen we just rode snowmobiles to places to build kickers and quarterpipes. The sun never sets so we’d ride ’til midnight. Nice colors. I like the light there.

Who are your sponsors?
Burton snowboards, Anon goggles, Hilken streetwear, and Arkos¿a new clothing brand I started with Nicolas and one other guy.s absolutely destroying the course, frontside threes, backside 540 nosegrabs, backside five off the hip to 720 over the shoulder. Sappa threw a backside three off the cliff, a railslide to frontside five, and a sick frontside seven over the gap. Gruber’s runs included a backside 180, a corked backside five, and a backside seven. Friedl was a killing machine, executing a frontside five double grab, a switch 720, and a line that included a Cab five over the gap. Wolle threw down a corked frontside five, a backside seven, a backside five, and a backside three to backside disaster off the wall.

To The Victors Go The Spoils

Despite the strong show of firepower from the North Americans, Wild Cards, and Scanners, the allied Euro war machine was too strong to defeat.That night, every eligible woman within 60 miles showed up for the after-party. Douds Charlet (Babs’ brother) was far and away the King Mack Daddy lady-killer that night. In fact, he’s kind of like the Romain De Marchi of lady-killers: when he starts throwing down, even the most seasoned veterans stop to take notes.

Fair WarningBeware to those interested in visiting Falun in the future to check out the Twin Towers: even if you don’t get caught doing anything wrong, you might still end up on lockdown.

RESULTS (Sidebar)Ripper: Master Of Transitions (Best Overall)
Freddi Kalbermatten
Line Executor (Best Line)
Jacob Söderqvist
The Sniper (Best Trick)
Friedl Kolar
Space Traveler (Highest Air)
Mattias Blomberg
Smooth Operator (Most Stylish)
Kale Stephens
Jib Commander (Best Jib)
Wolle Nyvelt
Rubber Man (Best Tweak)
Dani Sappa

TransWorld: Congratulations, Freddi, you won the Best Overall Rider award.Freddi Kalbermatten: Thanks.

Describe the Twin Towers jumps.
First of all, I think the guy who built this park played too much Tony Hawk skateboarding. It just looks so massive: the big piles of snow, the gap¿it was crazy. The air time wasn’t that long, but the kicker was really high¿maybe fifteen meters 50 feet, really big¿but after a few tries, it was all right.

So did you like the contest?
Yeah, I really liked it¿no political shit going on like ISF or FIS, and it was judged by the riders.

Tell us about yourself just in case there are readers out there who don’t know much about you. Where are you from?
Saas Fe, Switzerland, but I don’t live there anymore. I just go riding there and chill out with friends. I really like to ride Saas Fe because I grew up there, so I know it really well. It’s a sick place, especially for freeriding and backcountry. We like to build big kickers.

Who do you ride with?
Nicolas Müller. He’s my best friend and rides Burton snowboards, too. I like his style; it’s the best. He makes everything look easy.

If you had a day with two meters seven feet of fresh powder …
I would ride the powder for sure.

… and there’s a perfectly cut superpipe.
No, no, no. I would choose the fresh powder for sure.

What’s the best place you’ve ever ridden?
It’s hard to say, there are so many good places. I went to Tahoe once and whew! That was cool. Also, Riksgrånsen. But it’s totally different. In Tahoe you have mountains, and in Riksgrånsen we just rode snowmobiles to places to build kickers and quarterpipes. The sun never sets so we’d ride ’til midnight. Nice colors. I like the light there.

Who are your sponsors?
Burton snowboards, Anon goggles, Hilken streetwear, and Arkos¿a new clothing brand I started with Nicolas and one other guy.