|ESPN.com: Skiing||[Print without images]|
The second and final day of competition at the 2013 Swatch Skiers Cup wrapped up on Thursday in Zermatt, Switzerland. After a day of big mountain freeride on Sunday, the event finished with the freestyle-centric backcountry slopestyle discipline. Team Europe, captained by event co-founder Kaj Zackrisson, won the event by beating Team Americas with a convincing total score of 21 to 11.
On the big mountain day, skiers got two runs each, with riders ripping untracked lines down deep snow on Alaskan-like spines. The video of Sverre Liliequist backflipping off of his last feature in front of a wave of oncoming snow from a pocket avalanche that he triggered quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of YouTube views.
"I don't want people to get the wrong impression from that run," said Liliequist. "People should know that we take snow safety very seriously and have highly professional safety protocols in place throughout the event."
The competition continued past Liliequist's descent, but with six riders left, head guide Samuel Anthamatten decided to end the day early. "We ran past our planned window for completing the comp with safe conditions," explained Anthamatten. "The sun was too high in the sky and was adversely affecting snow safety so we ended the day there."
The riders had a few days to rest before getting back to competing with the backcountry slopestyle day. The course was designed by Julien Regnier, who has been building kickers for much of his life for Poor Boyz Productions' lenses as well as for the Red Bull Linecatcher contest. A steep, freeride-style upper face opened up into a lower section that featured several kickers of different styles and sizes.
Despite a solid comeback effort from the Americans, Team Europe again won the day, taking most of the day's heats. Fabio Studer of Austria had one of the standout performances of the event with a switch cork 540 off the ridge-top kicker, a sneaky and creative line through a steep, sluffing couloir, and a huge cork 720 off the final jump. Studer has also been upping the level of freestyle in the Freeride World Tour this year, as shown by his second place run in the recent Chamonix event that saw him sticking a cork hand drag 360 and a cork 720.
"Getting those tricks off of natural features that we've never hit before can be tough," said Studer. "But I've done so many cork 3s, 7s, and switch 5s in my life that when I pop off the takeoff, I can spot my landing and judge if I need to speed up my rotation or open up to slow it down."
The 2013 event represents the third edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup and Team Europe is now in the lead with two wins in the event's history to Team Americas' one. The Skiers Cup is already confirmed for two future editions.