At the top of Thredbo Resort is a ballet of steel and snow. The dancers are huge winch cats and park grooming machines. Their red costumes are vibrant against the white-out that is finally subsiding ironically on the last day of scheduled competition. The choreography is constant and mesmerising. Though it isn’t the graceful movement that spectators have come to expect from the biggest jump on the AFP World Tour… But as tomorrow’s forecast calls for sun, the shoveling and shaping need to be done, because no one is leaving without a finale.
Light gusts of wind pepper the cool air as the athletes, those who weathered the blizzard, arrive to see for the first time the perfectly shaped lines of the Toyota One Hit Wonder Big Air. The park crew have worked tirelessly removing the tonnes of excess snow that formed in drifts during the week-long storm. The cloudless sky is the punctuation that today is real, no excuses, jumping will happen, and thus the tension starts to mount… Someone will have to go first.
For half an hour skiers check their speed. Then Enzo Scotto fist pumps Lucas, a fellow Frenchman, double pole taps and feels it out all the way to halfway down the 200ft landing. His first jump is one of the largest airs of the day.
It’s 10am and the flood gates have been opened with skier after skier finding their zone on the jump. The name of the game today is the GoPro Game Show. Cash is awarded for the best trick, original trick (both athlete judged), and the “Oscar” which goes to one of the randomly drawn teams of two who produce the best short edit at the end of the week. Everyone has a GoPro HERO5 and is strategizing the best angles to impress the judging panel. By lunchtime though, the jump was seeing some serious action.
Australian Ryley Lucas impressed with a double 12 blunt before Mexico’s only Olympic freeski team member, Robbie Franco scared himself with a “screamin’ seaman” midway through a triple 1440. Italian Christof Schenk was taking his double misty 1080’s well down the landing. Schenk’s carve into his double 10 safety was pure awesome. Unfortunately he went down hard in the third round when attempting a triple… Loosing himself in the air during the third rotation, he hit the ground hard and was unconscious by the time he slid to a halt. Although Ski Patrol treated him for something more serious before sending him to town to be thoroughly checked out (correctly), everyone was stoked he was able to walk out of Cooma Hospital later that day. Christof received an impromptu Sick Bird award for sending it all the way to Cooma!
The riders voted for Austrian Sam Baumgartner to take the honour of best trick, although his overall performance was more than noteworthy, landing a number of triple corks for the first time including a switch triple 1620, a crowd pleasing triple backie, and a massive triple cork 1440 high safety (the winning trick).
Frenchman Lucas Romain, known throughout Thredbo as the coach of the Mountain Academy, was voted as the winner of the most original trick with his switch dub 1080 japan to reverse tail (it’s rare to see skiers swapping grabs like that in the midst of a double cork). In the spirit of the event, Robbie Franco and Australian local Nick Payne also picked up Sick Bird awards, Nick for his “deca-shifty”.
It was certainly a relief to be able to finish off the week on the jump. Although one of the biggest September blizzards on record treated the visiting international athletes to some of the best hero powder snow conditions Australia has seen, knowing that the there was a monster buried and dormant at the top of the mountain weighed nervously on the minds of the athletes. Eventually it would have to be reckoned with, it’s why we all converge on Thredbo this particular week in September and have been doing so since 2009. And even though the AFP World Tour stop had to be cancelled, the bittersweet resolve was that the Toyota One Hit Wonder had a return to it’s roots.
The original 2009 format consisted of no judges, just a sun-fueled couple of days with friends sessioning the biggest jump Australia has seen. The vibe of this years group of invited riders perfectly reflected what this event has always been about… The athletes themselves and their corresponding levels of stoke. “The amount of effort, patience and enthusiasm that went into this years event by athletes, crew and mountain staff was unprecedented. It is always difficult having the thread the needle through the eye of the storm. Thank you to the resort park crew for literally moving mountains to get the jump ready in time. Thank you to the athletes who came to hang with us here in Thredbo… The smiles after our day of jumping was done makes it all worthwhile and I am looking forward to turning 10 next year.” -Timothy Myers, Media Director.
With the weather moving back into Thredbo the athlete’s have packed their bags and will edit their final vids on the road using the GoPro Quik app in an attempt to win the “Oscar” and another $2000 cash. Keep an eye on instagram using the hashtag #GoProGameShow to see when the team edit start to emerge around mid week. In the meantime we will be uploading highlights to our @onehitwonderdu Instagram and Facebook.
by Arrnott Olssen
Editor Rogue Homme