On January 19th 1996, World Cup freestyle halfpipe snowboarding made its first appearance on live television. The FIS World Cup Contest held at San Candido ski area in Innichen, Italy, was broadcast on Eurosport TV to every country in Europe.
The professional coverage included three camera angles, slow motion instant replays, instant displays of the judges’ scores, complete layout graphics, professional commentary, as well as interviews with competitors, judges, and organizers. Not only was the television coverage impressive, but it was equally matched by skilled competitors. Nine nations competed on the finely crafted halfpipe for a total of 15 million Lira, that’s about 12,000 U.S. Dollars. The United States, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Holland, and Italy, comprised ten men and six women out of a field of 33 men and 11 women. The finals were then filmed live for all of Europe with the top four places winning prize money – $6,000 for the men and $6,000 for the women.
Some highlights include American Rob Kingwell, winner of the Men’s Division, cranking 6-8 foot high airs, 720’s and McTwists. Not far behind, taking second by only three tenths of a point, was Ross Powers of the US who pulled equally impressive moves. Coming in third was Sweden’s Hendrik Jansson who spun his way to victory. Following for fourth, fifth, and sixth were Americans Dustin DelGuidice and Lael Gregory, and Japan’s Shinichi Watanabe, who pulled a nasty back-to-back 540 combo with grabs.
Despite last year’s tour winner Sabrina Sadeghi out with an ACL injury, the Women’s Division still boasted solid competition. Carolien Van Kilsdonk of Holland swept the field by nine points. She was consistently 3 feet out of the pipe, grabbing tweaked-out methods, mutes, and tail grabs, as well as spinning perfect 540’s. Taking second, and third with solid runs were USA team member Anne Marie Uliasz, and Canadian Stacey Burke.
Later, the beer flowed and the contest ended with a snowboarder disco on the hill. All the local Italian kids showed up just to hang out with the snowboarders. Plus, there was the nightime halfpipe exhibition under the lights. Most of the competitors were there late, especially the US Team, and were going big. With the contest over, no one cared to hold back anything and went off to impress the local crowd who lined the pipe eagerly. All in all, the contest was a success and everyone got the chance to dance all night to their favorite Euro-techno hits.