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Sommer, Thost Boost Pipe Quals
Laax, Switzerland - Friday, November 27

HP Finals: Taggart Steals It
GS Finals: Riders Rip it in Alpine Opener

On Friday evening I arrived in Laax, Switzerland. It snowed like hell; you couldn't even find your car in the parking lot. It was a great scenario — like a winter fairy tale and everybody in it was stoked.

ISF World Tour
The first thing I heard was that there were big problems with the pipe on Thursday. During training the pipe really sucked and the riders complained at the riders meeting. Laax has a reputation for its high quality and best shaped halfpipe. Therefore the Organizing Committee decided to reshape the pipe during the night to present a perfect pipe for qualifications. Volunteers, headed by Reto Gurtner, "Businessman of the Year 1998" in Switzerland and former ISF President, worked until 3 am.

"Nicola "Golden" Thost/GER, Olympic Champion, dominated the qualifications with her stylish and high 720s..."

On Friday it was snowing the whole day, but the men's qualifications went ahead. One hundred seventeen men from 16 nations were at the start. The pipe was in perfect condition after the late night reconditioning and the riders showed that they had improved their tricks and sportive level during the summer months.

The qualification was won by two Norwegian riders: Marius Sommer and Daniel Franck. Guillaume Chastagnol celebrated his comeback — starting with bib number 95, he ended up 4th.

Well, that was the stuff I heard from the people. On Friday evening Laax offered a great program with live concerts, DJs, dinners and parties. In the Danspaleis, an old circus tent with an extraordinary atmosphere, the show of the US's Jango Edwards took place. Most of the riders were there and had a lot of fun because of this crazy guy. Austrian Heidi Jaufenthaler, last year's ISF World Pro Tour Winner in Duel, was one of Jango's "victims". She was sitting in the second row and he picked her out to come up on the stage. He made one of his stupid, but super funny jokes with her, where Heidi showed entertainment qualities. After Jango's extraordinary show the Red Snapper/GB concert took place in the Dance Garage. I went home quite early, because I wanted to be fit for Saturday where the HP qualification of the women would start early in the morning.

ISF World Tour
Nicola Thost
On Saturday morning I was on the mountain around 9 am. The weather conditions were great (God is probably a big fan of snowboarding!) — blue skies without any clouds and a perfectly shaped Halfpipe.

All riders had big grins on their faces and showed with their riding that they enjoyed every minute in the pipe. Great conditions for a great show! First the qualification of the women took place. Everybody was impressed, because the girls showed a way higher sportive level than last year. All in all they jumped higher and risked more. It was pure pleasure to watch. Nicola "Golden" Thost/GER, Olympic Champion, dominated the qualifications with her stylish and high 720's.

— Birgit Gruber, Mountain Zone European Correspondent

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