Last week, we saw the return of a long running annual gather in the snow sports world; The Nines. A bombastic crew consisting of some of the greatest skiers the world has ever seen connected in Switzerlands Crans-Montana for 5 days of see-it-to-believe-it stunts. There are fluctuating opinions on The Nines in the world of skiing. Yes, it’s brand heavy, and yes, it can seem overtly sponsor oriented. However, this sh*t ain’t free, and if there’s money being made in skiing, it might as well be directed towards building one of the most progressive and ingenues parks ever made.
If you combed over the globe from mountain to mountain, you’d have an extremely hard time finding any venue with features like you’re about to see. Quite honestly, they are geometric feats of snow, with the builders and shapers deserving as much credit as the riders. The course is daunting, inspiring, and breath taking all in one swoop. Needless to say, it’s the perfect playground for these skiers.
For those who are unfamiliar, The Nines is an old gathering that has been through many variations. To be exact, this was the 30th edition. The annual snow engineering / art endeavor has gone by many names; Nine Knights, Nine Queens, Suzuki Nines, Audi Nines. But all in all, through each year the event allows riders to ride a set up that looks like it’s straight out of STEEP.
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This years build consisted of three major features for the taking; the Jump, the Sphere, and the Downward Spiral. With rails and side hits sprinkled in throughout the venue, it would have been hard to find one square foot on the park that remained untouched by the time the 5 days was up.
The Jump, clocking in at approximately 80 feet if hit to perfection, was accompanied by two large semi-bowls on each side. The transition options were far from limited. According to our friends at Downdays.eu, the jump was a big hit, and, “the crew [was] raving over the dimensions of this kicker.”
The Sphere was a bulbous nub that towered above the surrounding enclosure, which doubled as a quarter pipe when hit with the right intentions. There were two sneaky doors that also allowed riders to slip up and out if they so desired. A very versatile feature to say the least, as long as you can muster the courage to soar over it.
Finally, the Downward Spiral was something right out of a Tony Hawk dream. Riders could haul into it and do a loop (or two) and scoot out the bottom doorway. At night, this little number was tricked out with a few lights and the insanity was allowed to continue under the stars. Half engineering marvel, half park feature, it was one of the more creative builds in recent memory.
The Nines may be rather exclusive, but there’s no denying that it is a mesmerizing event, with every skier there showing that they deserve to be there as much as anyone on the planet. The camaraderie and overall joy that comes with the territory are the type of things that skiing thrives on. There seems to a very real sense of connection that The Nines, and similar events, have cultivated over the years.
Spanning well over a decade, it has become a symbol for another generation of skiers. As Canadian young gun and proclaimed Ruler Of The Week Max Moffat said, “I’ve been looking up to this event since I was a kid. To finally be able to come out here this year was super epic. It’s so nice to get back to the roots of skiing and snowboarding with friends.” Hopefully the cycle will continue, and more events like The Nines will flourish for years to come. For now however, competitions have wrapped, and resorts are beginning to close their doors for the season. Savor those turns while you can still get ’em, and soak up that ever wonderful feeling of snow beneath your feet and sun on your face.
Ski Women Best Trick: Lara Wolf (AUT), Misty 540 mute Best Style: Lara Wolf (AUT) Ruler Of The Week: Megan Oldham (CAN)
Ski Men Best Trick: Jesper Tjäder (SWE), Cork 540 to transition to switch backflip Best Style: Max Moffatt (CAN) Finn Bilous (NZL) Ruler Of The Week: Max Moffatt (CAN)
Try to keep your head on straight as Jesper Tjäder tears through this years course
Images courtesy of The Nines
For more information, history, and details about the event, check out The Nines website.