Embry and I took the 4:20 p.m. flight to Amsterdam, that’s right 4:20 to Amsterdam, out of LAX, which connected on through to Innsbruck. I never knew Embry was such a big wuss. When you fly into Innsbruck the valley it lies in is flanked on both sides by the Alps¿mountains a hell of a lot bigger than most. Because of this, when the weather is stormy, the landing can be a little hairy, especially when you’re riding in a prop airplane. All Embry and his white knuckles wanted to do was get on the ground.
René Hansen, Burton’s new International Team guy picked us up and shuttled us into town and the Burton Innsbruck headquarters. Since all the athletes, press, and hangers on were starting to arrive Burton put together a little cocktail party at their showroom to welcome everyone. The DJ was mixing and in true rock-star fashion the riders started to make their entrances via a big white, stretch limo. At the Air & Style the riders are the show and this is one of the aspects that makes it the event that it is. Besides the usual straight jump there will also be a “Corner Jump” competition, which consists of a choice of two hips, one setup for regular- and one for goofy-footers, with a brand new 50,000-dollar Audi parked between. The winner of the straight jump gets the keys to the car and 30 grand. The men’s and women’s corner hitters’ winners will take home 5,000 in cash each. A “Style” session open to all the male riders (again, men only?) will include a trip to Fiji for the best trick. All the riders will get a bit of cash, so the prizes involved in the Air & Style bump the event up quite a few notches, too.
The eighteen men competing in the Guys Corner are: Trevor Andrew, Wolle Nyvelt, Iker Fernandez, Markku Koski, Mini Karpf, Romain De Marchi, Mike Michalchuk, Peter Strom, Henry Sankala, Abe Teter, Martin Cernik, Gigi Rüf, Keir Dillon, Danny Wheeler, Fillippo Kratter, Wanner Thomas, Travis Parker, and Tom Recheis.
The ten females jumping are: Pauline Richon, Nici Pederzolli, Jessica Dalpiaz, Tina Basich, Michele Taggart, Roberta Rodger, Caroline Ehrenstrasser, Tina Birbaum, Tomoko Yamakoshi, and Margot Rozies.
In the big jump, hometown favorite and last year’s winner, Stefan Gimpl, along with Andrew Crawford, David Benedek, Michi Albin, Chad Otterstrom, Roger Hjelmstadstuen, Darius Heristchian, Kevin Sansalone, Ingemar Backman, Jonas Emery, Bjorn Lienes, Jussi Oksanen, Akifumi Hiraoka, Sani Alibabic, Nico Droz, and Jakob Wilhelmson will be the sixteen men competing for the car and cash.