In years past, the Air And Style meant one night of snowboarding, music, and booze-flooded partying somewhere in Tirolean Austria. However, this year things were set up in Munich, Germany’s Olympia Stadium, truly bringing snowboarding to the city masses and offering some extra music and motoFX, too.
Well, that was the goal, at least. Unfortunately, no one thought about motoFX in terms of jump requirements or audible stimuli levels (they are some noisy bastards!). So while every single one of those moto kickers was well visible to all spectators and gained extra attention by being loud as hell, snowboarding had a hard time claiming its original first-tier status. Furthermore, some spectators were looking straight into the snowboard ramp’s metal scaffolding, while others couldn’t see the in-run or first hit. I don’t think there was anyone in the stadium who could actually see the entire line riders were rocking.
And it’s a shame, because the world’s top shreds were around. Alibabic, Benedek, Crepel, De Marchi, Finch, Gimpl, Rice, Krà®ll, Mosesson, Mà…ller, Oksanen, and Schmidt were banging beanies in an all-new, head-to-head tournament mode, which included one technical run and one style run (meaning no spins over 540) on the straight to step-up kicker combo that was followed by a wallride and garnished with some extra rails. Betting was the thing to do, and best off were those who went with Hampus Mosesson and Mathieu Crepel, because those two made it all the way to the superfinal. That’s right, the youngsters took over in sovereign manner, while the watching crowd wondered whether to follow the snowboard finals, scream for the motoFX, or hope the endless hours of concerts would end and the on-snow action could go on.
In the end, it was Mosesson from Sweden who took home the title and got the official Air And Style champion’s ring, not to mention his making a huge step forward in his Ticket To Ride ranking. With his backside seven double-shifty to frontside five nosebones, this result should be considered fair enough. Crepel lacked a bit of landing luck on his switch backside 1080 attempt, though, after already losing on the style jump, and ended up coming in second. But the most remarkable trick of the event was executed in the consolation round by Nicolas Mà…ller, who raised some questions by simply straight airing the first kicker. He answered straight away on the following step-up by attempting a one-footed misty 720 chicken wing. The attempt ended at 630 degrees with a huge faceplant, but Nicolas had won the crowd, media, and fellow riders. His consolation-round opponent, Jussi Oksanen, took it a bit easier, doing some stylish Cab fives and switch backside fives, nailing them à– la Finnoise, and ended up in third place, leaving Nicolas in fourth.
And that was it. Few people left the stadium knowing whether or not the day’s highlight actually was snowboarding-not because the riding was bad, but because of the unfavorable setup, hectic schedule, and motoFX’s visual dominance. This might sound a bit harsh, but the Air And Style was and still is Europe’s best and most important snowboard contest, so people are easily dissapointed when expectations aren’t met to the fullest. So let’s expect a lot for 2006 again!
10. Heikki Sorsa