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11th ISF Nescafe European Championships
Leysin, Switzerland

ISF World Tour
Sigi Grabner
I'm just sitting in the car on the way back home from Leysin. It's a 6-hours trip after a long weekend of great performances and fun. All of the European top riders, except Terje, were present to fight again for the European Championship title.

I arrived on Thursday night and learned it had been snowing like hell for two days. The bed seemed to the best solution after this trip and so the next thing I remember is that I woke up on Friday morning because of the rays of sunshine. I looked out of the window and the view was fantastic — blue, blue sky without any clouds, a perfect day for riding.

"I couldn't do more than I did. I gave my best, but Sigi is invincible at the moment..."
Karl-Heinz Zangerl, 2nd place, Duels

Not much happened on Friday. The girls had the halfpipe qualifications and the alpine riders had the parallel GS qualification...more or less I went snowboarding and enjoyed the sun upon the little village.

ISF World Tour
Fabricio Bonachina
Friday night the Vagabond Club was our host for the "Jamaican Party." Lots of fun, although there were way too many people. The most curious thing was that Martin Freinademetz (AUT, Double World Champion '95) lost his jacket or better said, his jacket was not where he left it. Later on we saw three girls on their way home with his jacket. We couldn't believe it when they told Martin they thought it was a friend's. Unbelievable!

Giant Slalom
Saturday was a busy day for a few riders, because they started both the Parallel GS and the Boardercross finals. The GS took place in the morning, and was super exciting to watch, because it was held in the Parallel modus. The worst thing was the run of Manuel Kogler (AUT) against Martin Freinademetz (AUT). Manuel's bindings broke, he had no chance to stop and crashed directly into Martin. It looked really bad, but good luck for Martin, who was okay after this accident. Manuel broke his thumb and a few ribs hurt, but more or less it's not that bad. In the men's finals Sigi Grabner was the man of the day. He won against Swiss rider Andre Grütter in a breathtaking final. I think it was his 4th ISF European Champion title. This man rules!

This season he is nearly invincible. In third was French Charming boy Nicolas Conte. A good day for Burton, too, because all three on the podium ride for Burton.

At the women's finals it was Swiss Steffi von Siebenthal, girlfriend of World Champion Fadri Mosca, who proved iron nerves in her last two runs against Gitti Köck from Austria. 3rd rank for Swiss lady Ursula Bruhin, it's the biggest success in her career.

The afternoon was reserved for the Boardercross finals. Forty-eight men and 24 women competed in heats of six people together. The course was really difficult to ride, it was narrow and allowed not even a little mistake.

The dominating rider was Philippe Conte (FRA), brother of Nicolas, who won the finals against Norwegian BX specialist Tor Bruserud, who is on the podium at nearly every Boardercross competition. Laurent Besse (also from France) came in 3rd. So 3 real BX-specialists dominated the competition. At the women's finals it was Austrian Ine Pötzl, 1st at the ISF BX World Tour '97-'98, who won just before Norwegian Tanja Frieden, who is living is Switzerland, and Pepe Ahonen from Finland. You should watch Pepe when she is freeriding. She is rad! Saturday night the Snowboarder MBM Magazine organized an Old School Party with the Soul Fingers live in concert. I heard the concert was great, but I wasn't there. I went to bed quite early on Saturday night 'cause of the halfpipe qualifications, which started very early on Sunday morning. Most of the HP riders went to bed early also. Surprising!

At 8:00 o'clock on Sunday morning Nils and I sat in the gondola up to the mountain. Unhuman time! It was cold, not really daylight, but the weather was great. We watched a little bit the HP qualifications, but then we went to the other side of the hill, where the Duel finals took place. Austrian Duel specialist Karl-Heinz "Kalle" Zangerl, who won nearly everything in this discipline (ISF World Tour, ISF World Championships), was trying to take his first medal at a European Championship. In the past, he's had bad luck, but today he made it into the big final against Sigi Grabner. It was a very exciting heat, because Sigi led by nearly a second after the first run. It's incredible how much time he took off Kalle.

In the second run Kalle gave everything, but he had no chance of beating Grabner. "I couldn't do more than I did. I gave my best, but Sigi is invincible at the moment!" Kalle said.

So Sigi is a Double ISF European Champion in '99. Unbelievable! Third again was Frenchman Nicolas Conte, who was also very successful here with two 3rd places.

The surprise of the day at the girl's finals was the young Austrian Heidi Neururer, who made it for the first time into a final and who got 2nd just behind Martina Magenta (ITA). Everybody was really happy for Martina because she hasn't yet won a title. She was always just "Vice-European Champion", "Vice-blablabla..."

Giant Slalom
In third place for the women was German serial winner Katharina Himmler, who already won three different disciplines this year (GS, DU, BX). In the afternoon it was time for the HP specialists. The ruling man was in fact Daniel Franck from Norway with his incredible high and clean runs including Haakon Flips and 720's. No doubt about it: Daniel had to win the European Championships. 2nd got Swiss hero Fabien Rohrer with super technical runs where he showed the judges and the spectators Haakon Flips and Rodeos.

ISF World Tour
Stine Brun Kjeldaas
Austrian Stefan Gruber, better known as Mr. Big (that's how his friends call him) made it onto the podium also with incredible airtime. Remarkable was his difficult 720 to sw 720 combination. At the women's finals it was Stine Brun Kjeldaas, who convinced the judges with 3 super nice and clean runs including 540's and Japan Airs. Canadian Natasza Zurek got 2nd with her McTwists, and Martina Tscharner (SUI) took 3rd 'cause of the good variety of her runs. Bad luck for Olympic Champion Nicola Thost (GER). She bailed in the finals and had no chance to win the title anymore, but Nicola will show what she is able to do at the 4th ISF World Championships in Val di Sole next week.

The 11th ISF European Championships were pure snowboarding. Great performances from the riders and of course lots of fun with all the people. Outstanding man of this week was for sure Sigi Grabner, who really seems to be invincible. Let's see what he will show us at the ISF World Championships in Val di Sole ..... See you there ...

— Birgit Gruber, Mountain Zone European Correspondent

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