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Visit Grindelwald

Swiss Claim Pro Tour As Their Own "Swiss Cup"
Grindelwald, Switzerland- December 17-20, 1998

ISF World Tour
Klaus Shines
It seemed like back in summertime, when we took the gondola up on the Wednesday, the first day of training. The pipe seemed sweet, and smooth as butter as the first male went down. It's almost X-Mas and the jackets got thrown in the corner; 10° Celsius means T-shirt all day long. The sun was shining bright as the qualifications ended. Surprisingly 17-year-old Fredrick Kalbermatten, out of Saas Fee, Switzerland straight qualified. Also making it for the first time to the finals was Jan Michaelis, out of Germany. Worn out from the day before, since there was one hour of free beer in the local pub, everybody went to see the Saturday finals.

Some of the spectators said this would be a "Swiss Cup" since nine out of 16 guys in the finals were out of Switzerland. Daniel Franck opened the session as a forerunner, since he bailed during his qualification run. He was pissed but he had the guts to go first and indeed, he was showing off. Cool one man show.

"He was pissed but he had the guts to go first..."

The finals for the women were tight as well. Nicola Thost was not present, since she hurt her knee. Even Minna Hesso had a three point advantage after the first of the three final runs and Stine Brun Kjeldass was trying to catch up. And was these two who had a battle for the win.

For the men, there were so many good riders on the run that it was not only the personal strength, but also the mental power of the riders. Grindelwald local Pascal Imhof won the quals and was ready to go for the big money. But on this day of the finals the world looked different. Xaver, who seemed weak after coming home from the bar at 3 in the morning, was showing the best technical tricks, but on this day was "easy-low", since he didn’t want to tow up right away.

Anyway, it was open to the end. Fabien Rohrer, leading after two runs, with a cool frontside indy to lean, showed that he learned a lot in Laax, when he forgot about motion-tricks. The judges thought he improved and put him in 2nd place to only be beat by Olympic Champ Gian Simmen, who won this contest. In third was Marcus Hurme who has to get credit for that smooth 720° late tail grab.

Back to the girls again, Minna won, Stine second. (I should also mention that Anne Kjongsgaard, a hot newcomer from Norway, also made it into these finals.)

ISF World Tour
Mr. Conte
The next day was the duel — the finals. It had seemed that these should be tight too as all the top riders were present. The weather turned bad, but the weather forecast promised snow, another reason to win some money to go freeriding so everybody was motivated.

It was very windy on the course, the same slope that hosted last year's Junior Worlds. In the finals, Nicolas Conte, best French Alpine Boarder was there as were some young riders. Andi Egger, the Ex-Junior World Champion, took it serious to 5 o’clock on the morning before the qualification, and ended 8th in the finals. What a weekend. In the end it was Ueli Kestenholz and Katerina Himmler. Both of them won one of the ISF events this year — boardercross and GS. Ueli was, as it seems, the most motivated rider to go freeriding again, so we will too.

— Birgit Gruber, Mountain Zone European Correspondent

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