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Adidas Slopestyle - NE
Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria, August 2, 2008
2007 Results Results
Pilgrim wins Slopestyle
Great Britain's Sam Pilgrim took home top honors at the adidas Slopestyle on the slopes of Saalbach Hinterglemm. The riders were fighting the weather all week, until noon when the skies cleared and the sun came out. The hill was packed with screaming spectators, and the world's best Slopestyle riders did not disappoint.
Riders were given two runs to qualify for the final, which trimmed the field of fifty riders down to the top fifteen riders of the day. Every rider did their best to put together runs that were packed with stylish tricks and huge hits.
Once the judges determined which riders would advance, the finals began with a crisp scent of anticipation in the air. Everyone was expecting the riders to unleash some additional lines that they might have thought of after the first two rounds of qualifying. Each rider that rolled out of the start ramp did just that, raising the bar to a point where everyone needed to pull out something new to make a dent in the final scoring.
German Timo Pritzel was one standout in the finals, flipping the "Macho" kicker line, which was only used for some straight airs and X-ups prior to his jump. He stomped the 16 metre long flip, but wasn't able to stay on course on the run-out on his first attempt. During his second run of the finals, Pritzel stomped the flip again and was able to continue riding. He had a crash later in his second run, but everyone was more than happy to let Pritzel claim his massive flip step-down.
All of the riders in the final showed a wide variety of style as they interpreted the course in their own ways. Riders like Frenchman Pierre-Edouard Ferry were hitting the big lines with good style and dialled tricks. Ferry launched the Macho line in his last run as well, stretching out a tuck no-hander over the six meter gap. Other guys like France's Christopher Hatton and Czech's Jakub Vencl were dissecting the course with their technical styles, finding ways to incorporate extra tricks into their runs.
By the second round of the finals, the level was so high that that pressure was really on for the top riders. After Pierre put down his best run, it was freeride Swedish newcomer Martin Söderström's turn to make his presence known. He stomped a super clean run littered with tailwhips and 360s, and mixed his technical style with smooth riding to totally shut down the last two jumps. Söderström threw down a perfect superwhip, with his long legs stretched out as far as they could possibly go. He capped his run off with a textbook 360 tailwhip on the last jump, to the delight of the crowd in Saalbach.
Great Britain's Sam Pilgrim was the last rider to ride course, and he did it after watching nearly all of his competitors from the Hot Seat. Marching up the course, the anxious crowd was curious to see if Pilgrim would be able to best Söderström's leading run.
Pilgrim rolled in and immediately did a flip one-foot X-up on the roll-in jump. He stuck the landing and instantly went into a 360 off of the landing of the first obstacle. He kept his run going by tailwhipping the Nacho step-down gap, following it with some impressive style over the Alm hip and One Big Park section. Pilgrim continued to slay the course, 360ing down the big step-up/step-down box, then ended his run with a flip on the first big dirt jump, followed by an absolutely flawless double tailwhip.
The judges took plenty of time to decide Pilgrim's fate as he nervously waited in the finish area near the Hot Seat and his fellow competitor, Martin Söderström. The entire crowd was on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the result. Finally, after much debate, the first place score was handed down to an extremely excited Pilgrim.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Markus Greber / Adidas Slopestyle
1 Sam Pilgrim (GBr) 23.0 pts 2 Martin Söderström (Swe) 22.3 3 Pierre-Edouard Ferry (Ger) 21.8 4 Lance McDermott (GBr) 19.9 5 Christopher Hatton (Fra) 19.1 6 Jakub Vencl (Cze) 18.9 7 Amir Kabbani (Ger) 18.2 8 Niki Leitner (Aut) 18.1 9 Marius Hoppensack (Ger) 17.7 10 Phil Sundbaum (USA) 16.8 11 Tomas Zejda (Cze) 15.9 12 Jan Toth (Cze) 11.0