Many of the world’s best female and male skiers and snowboarders came together for the grand finale of the Suzuki Nine Royals at Watles, South Tyrol, Italy on April 1st, 2017. Under a hazy sky, the women and men proved their creativity and technical prowess to the delight of cheering crowds and judges. Over the course of two jam sessions, judges determined the winners using a unique format: a combined score of two technical tricks and one style trick. After a week of photo and film sessions, it was Jamie Anderson (USA, snb), Sebbe De Buck (BEL, snb) Andri Ragettli (SUI, ski) and Coline Ballet-Baz (FRA, ski) who topped the podiums.
Andri Ragettli carried the momentum from his incredible world’s first quad cork 1800 into the Contest Day, stomping a switch left triple cork 1440 safety grab, a left triple cork 1440 mute grab, and a switch left 540 screaming seamen japan grab; earning the Swiss prodigy 1st place.
Swedish skier Oscar Wester earned second place with a series of huge tricks such as a left triple flatspin 1260 japan grab and a right triple cork 1620 safety grab. Finally, in a fight for third, Luca Schuler (SUI) impressed the judges with versatile tricks like a left triple cork 1080 safety grab and a left double bio 1080 truck driver grab.
“This was probably the best week of skiing of my life,” a hyped Ragettli stated, “It was perfect and I’m super happy to end up in first place. We are pushing our sport with new tricks and everyone is having fun, which is super important for skiing.”
Due to injuries after a long competition season, only three skiers participated in the women’s ski category. French Queens veteran Coline Ballet-Baz earned the top spot with a left cork 900 tail grab, a right cork 720 safety grab, and a left 360 safety grab. Meanwhile, “Become a Royal” video contest winner Zuzana Stromkova (SVK) took second place with a left flatspin 1080 safety grab and a left flatspin 720 safety grab. Katie Summerhayes rounded off the podium.
“It’s awesome to win, especially since I love this event!” said an overjoyed Coline, “It was a crazy week with some tricky conditions and a lot of girls crashing. It was sick to see the boys riding too. They’re always pushing themselves and trying hard, so it’s really motivating. I even tried a cork 10 earlier in the week and though I didn’t land it, I’ll definitely be trying it again it next year.”
Laying down massive tricks, defending champ Sebbe de Buck (BEL) claimed 1st place in the men’s snowboard contest with his new frontside butter to switch backside double 900, a backside rodeo 720 and a floaty double backflip off the huge middle jump.
Fellow Belgian Seppe Smits took second place with a backside double cork 1080 and a switch backside double cork 1080. Clemens Millauer (AUT), invited specifically for the contest day, stomped a frontside double cork 1080 and a backside double cork 1080 to round out the podium in third.
Sebbe was hyped to win: “This week was super fun; we’re all friends and everyone was sending it. It’s also nice to reclaim the top position, like last year. This week I also learned the frontside butter to switch back double cork and I can’t wait to bring it into contests next season.”
Unfortunately, various injuries among the female snowboarders limited the number of participants for the Contest Day down to Olympic Gold Medalist Jamie Anderson (USA). Though she rode alone in her category, Jamie was undeterred and sent multiple big tricks such as a stylish Cab 720 tailgrab, massive cab 540s and a front 360 melon.
Jamie was very happy with her experience, “We had incredible weather, a crazy awesome feature and a lot of riding. Holy Nine Royals what a fun session.”
With a huge crowd of stoked fans and spectators traveling to Watles in South Tyrol to witness the contest day in person, the vibe was spectacular; ensuring a great finale to a truly special week. Stay tuned for full contest video to be released at 5pm on Sunday the 2nd of April, as well as more videos over the coming days and of course the next event, the Nine Knights MTB in September 2017.