February 2, 2009 – With the most inspirational and progressive freeriding event just around the corner, the riders are gearing up for a contest like no other.
In the past few months the snow has been falling throughout the Alps heightening everyone's expectations of this year's Swatch O'Neill Big Mountain Pro.
"With recent heavy snowfalls in Austria, southeast Switzerland and northern Italy, there is an excellent base in the region," says event director, Nicolas Hale Woods.
"It's actually a record for the last ten years for this time of the year," he says. "We really have something to play with. However, the next few days are going to be key."
The vague plan – as much as The Big Mountain Pro ever has a plan – is to remain around the area of Austria, southeast Switzerland and northern Italy. "There are so many interesting options around this area to keep us busy," says Nicolas. "We have a few faces in mind, and we are also holding open the option to hike and stay in a mountain hut."
Jeremy Jones, straight from winning the Big Mountain Rider of the Year Award for the sixth time- is making his way out to Austria aiming for his second consecutive title at the Big Mountain Pro.
However Cody Townsend, the Santa Cruz local who blew everyone away with his straight line descents both years he has been at the Big Mountain Pro, is keen to up the ante this year, and win the competition.
"This is my year," he said. "I've been second and fourth in this competition before, so this is my year. I feel really comfortable and ready to go have fun with it. I'm not nervous. I just want to go out there and get fired up."
It's not just the idea of winning that has him excited, but also the event itself: "This is the dream event for any skier," he said. "To have not just one venue, but the whole of the Alps to ski… that's what you dream of. It's pretty much the single best contest and what I look forward to most in the year."
Also joining the Big Mountain Pro for the first time is Norwegian freestyle rider, Fredrik Evensen. Known for his skills in the park, Fredrik is looking forward to discovering new ground and pushing his boundaries in the world of freeriding.
"I've been doing parks and jumps for ten years now. I am ready for something new," Fredrik said. "For me it's a good challenge. I got hooked on freeriding when I got into it last year when filming for Legends. I'm excited to be invited to this event."
He is also relishing the opportunity to ride with Jeremy Jones. "I'm a big fan of Jeremy's," he said. "I got a few days riding with him last year in Canada for the film Legends. He's pretty inspirational."
Follow the Big Mountain Pro with the daily highlight shows on
CONFIRMED LIST OF RIDERS
Xavier de le Rue
Thomas " Beckna " Eberharter
3 Feb 2009 – Arrive in St. Anton, Arlberg range, Austria
– 15:00 : Riders’ arrival
– 18:00 : Welcome drink and riders’ presentation at the Funcky chicken
– 20:00 : Welcome party at the Bobo’s Mexican restaurant
4 Feb – 10 Feb 2009 – Travel around the Alps seeking out the best faces and snow conditions
10 Feb 2009 – Judging and prizegiving in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria
– 17 :00 : Viewing and judging of the lines at “Gosstall” in Saalbach Hinterglem by the riders. Riders see all lines and vote for:
a/ the overall winner and
b/ the top 3 skiers/snowboarders
– 19::00 : Prize giving & Riders’ dinner followed by a party featuring DJ Gitta Saxx and the Urban Knights from London at the “Gosstal”
Daily highlights of The Swatch O'Neill Big Mountain Pro can be seen on www.bigmountainpro.com