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WRAP UP: EUROPEAN DOMINATION OF THE O’NEILL PLEASURE JAM 2013
What a day it was high up on the peaks of Dachstein for the 11th edition of the O’Neill Pleasure Jam. With blue skies stretching across the continent and not a hint of wind, it was Sven Thorgren and Isabel Derungs that were crowned the champions of the O’Neill Pleasure Jam over the other 100+ riders from across the globe that had descended upon Superpark Dachstein to kick off the 2013/14 season of the World Snowboard Tour. With a prediction for weather change on Saturday, the decision was made to run the competition all in one day on Friday before the clouds rolled in. Nonetheless all of the riders stepped up to the plate to throw down for the qualifications. The course consisted of a down rail into a triple kicker line before finishing off on the O’Neill rainbow rail that would be the crossing to victory.
THE STORM BEFORE THE SEMIFINALS
As the first rider dropped into the course for qualification, there was barely a breath of wind, meaning the riders could begin their assault on the course. After the first battle on the course, it was Swiss ripper Markus Mathis that emerged the winner of the two mens qualification heats. Over in the women’s category, all the riders displayed their hunger to face up against the invited riders in the superfinals. With only 6 riders progressing, Elena Koenz led the charge with a storming run that secured her a place in the superfinals.
RALLYING THE INVITED RIDERS
The semifinals pitched the qualified riders against the invited riders for the first time, but the qualified riders weren’t going to relinquish their chances easily. Thus an aerial dogfight began that both the Dachstein crowd and riders will surely remember. Emerging from the battle in the top spots were Tim Kevin Ravnjak and Fridtjof Tischendorf and nine other riders, due to the incredibly high standard of snowboard trickery.
THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
After the semi’s, it was time for the women to meet in their final showdown for the O’Neill Pleasure Jam trophy cabinet. Two-time winner Aimee Fuller couldn’t defend her title and had to settle for 3rd place despite her killer signature run consisting of a cab underflip, backside 360 and a laid out backflip on the kicker section. Next up was local prodigy Anna Gasser who sealed herself the silver medal position with her super technical backside skills, throwing down some serious 180 combos. Ms. Isabel Derungs hailing from the valleys of Switzerland ended Aimee’s two year reign over the O’Neill Pleasure Jam with a concrete winning run including a switch backside 180 and a monstrous backside rodeo that surely made the boys blush. The sun was just hovering over the peaks of the Dachstein glacier basking the course in the last rays of daylight as the men got ready to throw down for the finals. It was no surprise after seeing him storm his way through the qualifications that Brage Richenberg took home the bronze medal with one of the most stylish runs of the day, stomping a backside 720, a frontside 1080 nosegrab with a side order of tweak and a double wildcat to make the Norwegians proud. David Hablützel did his best to match his female Swiss compatriot with the gold medallion, but he had to settle for the silver after his attack on the course, which included a backside 900, cab double 1080, and a frontside 720 before finishing it off with a backside 180 onto the rainbow rail. Yet it was Swedish ripper Sven Thorgren that clinched 1st place with his sheer amplitude that no doubt impressed the judges. He sent a 270 onto the down rail, a cab double 900 followed by a backside 1080 before finishing it off with a double backside rodeo, riding away to O’Neill Pleasure Jam infamy.
BALICAMP BEST TRICK AWARD
Not only content with taking home 4,000 USD for his first place finish, Sven Thorgren also won the men’s best trick with his double backside rodeo that was oozing style. He’ll be off to Indonesia courtesy of Balicamp for a three-week holiday including accommodation, board rental and instruction to wind down after what soon might well be his best season on the World Snowboard Tour. He’ll be joined by fellow medalist Anna Gasser who earned her trip to Balicamp with her jumbo cab 720 off the second kicker that almost sent her to the flat. A well-deserved winner of the best trick award after her recent double cork exploits in Austria.