The first ever Suzuki NINE QUEENS was a huge success last week – Overwhelmed skiers, incredible tricks and breath-taking images!
The first edition of the Suzuki NINE QUEENS wrapped up last weekend and the event couldn’t have been better. Virginie Faivre, five times European Open champion and former Halfpipe World Champion, had hosted the first ever all-girl freeski invitational in the Austrian resort of Serfaus, Fiss, Ladis. Of course, many of the world’s best female freestyle skiers had followed her invitation, among them multiple X Games winners Sarah Burke and Kaya Turski from Canada, local hero Eva Patscheider, Americans Ashley Battersby and Keri Herman as well as Swedish newcomers Emma Dahlström and Maria Bagge.
The action at Virginie Faivre’s chateau, a multi-feature obstacle beautifully carved out of a massive amount of snow, started on Monday. It immediately became clear that the week would turn into a special moment in women’s freeskiing as all the girls skied the massive kicker with confidence and showed great style in technical tricks with clean grabs. Emma Dahlström and Australian Slopestyle World Champion Anna Segal were leading the way with steezy cork 7s and flat 3s while 9-year-old princess Kelly Sildaru from Estland took her turns on the boxes and rails. Respecting her young age, she wasn’t allowed to jump the big table, but her energy and excellence on the jib section throughout the week blew everybody’s mind.
The first highlight was the heli-shooting on Tuesday. A helicopter with two cameramen on board was following the girls’ runs for more than an hour. And it was absolutely worth it as Sarah Burke showed her trademark switch cork 9, Eva Patscheider added some perfect flat 5s and Keri Herman was ruling with a variety of tricks and an even bigger selection of styled out grabs. After a long session the girls went to bed more than happy about the great session. They didn’t sleep long, though. Early the next morning they returned to the chateau with the rising sun to an even more spectacular session in the best light of the day.
After three intense days of riding the queens finally took a day off on Thursday, but it wasn’t exactly a lazy day. Instead of riding the girls were showing their talent as models. Everybody was going to an old, nearby castle where the photographers had set up several entertaining shoots with the queens styled in traditional Austrian dresses. This lifestyle shooting was a perfect break. The riders could enjoy the warm afternoon sun or the cold flash light of the invited photographers.
The real peak of the event was the public big air contest on Friday, however. Refreshed after a day of rest and already familiar with the amazing chateau, the girls’ skiing most definitely reached a new level this day. Kaya Turski and Maria Bagge both showed the first ever switch 1080s in women’s freeskiing with Maria Bagge winning the contest in front of Kaya Turski. But it was not only those two who expanded their boundaries. For example, Ashley Battersby landed her first ever switch 900° and she came really close to sticking a switch 1080°. Other remarkable tricks were Emma Dahlström’s cork 900° and Maude Raymond’s perfect misty 5.
Following an absolutely outstanding day of action, the queens were in the mood for partying on the final night. It started with a great meal at the Patschi, a staple in the nightlife of Serfaus, Fiss, Ladis. But before the girls were allowed to go crazy, they had to judge the best photos and the best riders of the week. Felix Rioux, Ruedi Flück, Stef Candé and Christoph Schöch all presented a selection of breath-taking images and they took home the prizes for best action, most creative angle, best black&white and best lifestyle respectively. Best jibber of the week was of course Kelly Sildaru and the prize for best overall riding went to Kaya Turski, who once again had documented her outstanding position in freestyle skiing throughout the week. The rider with the most style, however, was Maude Raymond, as could be seen from the photographers’ slide shows. The Canadian graced a good share of the selected images. Then it was all beers and celebration.
The Suzuki NINE QUEENS experienced a perfect start and it clearly showed that the girls deserve their own contigent in the freeskiing world. Within only one year the event has arguably become the most important date in women’s freeski calendar. The invited riders can’t wait to return and host Virginie Faivre is already looking for the next playground. We can all look forward to another great spectacle next season!