Mother Nature is certainly having fun with us this year, isn't she? It was just two weeks ago that the organizers of the 2012 O'Neill Evolution in Davos, Switzerland had to cancel the halfpipe portion of their event due to widespread lack of early-season snow. And then? Winter finally arrived -- right in time for the Big Air portion of the TTR 6Star event.
Fresh powder wreaked havoc on the early qualification rounds this week, forcing the men to compete in slow, snowy conditions, while the women's qualifiers were cancelled altogether. The resort even had to close on Friday morning for avalanche control, while the contest crew dug the course out from under 20 inches of fresh snow. The best of the best persevered, however, and in the end Canadians Spencer O'Brien and Mark McMorris came out on top.
Eventual second-place finisher Eric Willett lead the 16-man finals after the first of three runs, scoring 93.45 for a frontside double cork 1008 mute grab over the kicker and a lipslide to 270 out on the wallride feature of the rail section. He then improved his score to 95.30 in his second run with a switch backside double cork 1260 mute grab and a lipslide to 270 out on the wallride. But McMorris answered back, with a backside double cork 1260 mute into a gap switch hard way to 270 out on the down-flat-down rail, taking first place with a score of 95.60.
Third place finisher Seppe Smits stomped a clean Cab 1440 in his third run, to a score of 90.48. In a strange twist, Sebastien Toutant -- the 2011 O'Neill Evolution champ -- had so many problems putting it down in the semi-finals, he pulled out of the contest and retired to the commentators booth, where he called just about everybody's runs as they were dropping in and then placed them all accurately before the scores came in. (With the exception of Smits, who he thought should have gotten a high enough score to unseat Willett for second place.)
On the women's side, Spencer O'Brien is on fire so far this season. Last month she unseated TTR World Champion Jamie Anderson in the Dew Tour Breckenridge slopestyle contest. Today she came into first place eight points ahead of runner-up Sina Candrian, scoring 93.45 on her second run with a massive frontside 720 nosebone over the kicker and a technical gap to frontside boardslide on the down rail.
That was enough to hold her lead over Candrian, whose frontside 720 melon, boardslide on the wallride feature scored 87.30 in her second run, and Austrian rider Anna Gasser, who came in third with a backside 540 mute, frontside boardslide to 50-50 on the wallride feature, frontside 180 out for 74.30 in her final run. (Jamie Anderson, from the looks of her Facebook page, spent the weekend on a beach somewhere.)
O'Brien and McMorris will be leaving Switzerland with an extra $20,000 and $40,000 in their pockets, respectively, and a pre-qualified ticket to the World Snowboarding Championships next month in Oslo, Norway, February 10-19. Europe, meanwhile, continues to be hammered by snow.
"Contest? What contest? Heading up to shred the good stuff," wrote O'Brien on Twitter. "Best resort pow day of my life here in Davos ... And it's still snowing!!! I'm not leaving, you can't make me."