Valle Nevado, Chile – After unsafe snow conditions scrapped Friday’s Backcountry Slopestyle course in Valle Nevado, athletes and organizers at the second edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup made a last-minute decision to hold a tiebreak-style match with only three riders from each team on a higher venue in the Valle Nevado backcountry with better snow conditions. After the uncertainty and suspense of the final day, Team Americas emerged victorious to win the competition that includes both big mountain and backcountry elements.
Changing the format of the event at the last minute was an extremely difficult decision to make, competition organizers say, but their quick thinking maintained the event’s dual-discipline format. Each team had to choose only three riders to compete in the tie-breaker.
“I chose my guys based on a combination of their motivation and enthusiasm in the moment and their abilities as creative freestyle skiers, because what I want is to push the level of riding at the event,” commented event co-founder and Team Europe captain Sverre Liliequist. “If we would have won today we would have won with style.”
In the end, however, Team Europe couldn’t stop the charge of Team Americas. With the score tied after the first two matches in which American Cody Townsend defeated Mathieu Imbert of France, and Chile’s own Chopo Diaz struck down Markus Eder of Italy, it was up to USA’s KC Deane to stop U.K. skier Paddy Graham. Graham was building an impressive run, but took a hard impact on the landing of one of his airs, putting his knees to his chin to bring his run to an end. Deane dropped in with a huge backflip at the top of the face and finished the run in impressive style, thus winning the tiebreaker and the Swatch Skiers Cup trophy for his team.
At the conclusion of the Swatch Skiers Cup’s second edition, organizers announced that the 2013 venue will be in front of the legendary Matterhorn, in Zermatt, Switzerland from February 9 through 16, 2013.
“This is a dream come true! We are very excited to announce that we will meet next February in Zermatt,” said event co-founder Kaj Zackrisson, of Sweden. “We knew from the beginning we had a super fun event concept, and this has let us attract the best skiers in the world. Get ready for more!”
“Zermatt is proud to host the 2013 edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup. The playground we have here is endless — surrounded by the highest mountains in the Alps,” added Freeride World Tour standout and mountain guide Samuel Anthamatten. “Zermatt offers challenging venues and a spectacular panorama. The local community will live the event with passion and we are looking forward to welcoming riders and guests for an amazing time!”
In Zermatt, Townsend will lead Team Americas and Zackrisson will be in the driver’s seat of Team Europe. Until they meet in the shadow of the Matterhorn, Team Americas will proudly guard the Swatch Skiers Cup trophy, their names now engraved on this piece of ski history.