The 4th edition of the Suzuki Nine Knights was a phenomenal week for athletes, media and spectators alike. The exceptionally beautiful feature, "Il Castello" provided the perfect venue for some seriously awesome videos and photos. A progressive Big Air competition and raging after-party ensured that everyone went home with a big smile on their face.
On invitation by Marker Völkl athlete Nico Zacek some of the world's best freeskiers turned up to the picturesque Italian town of Livigno for a week of photo and film shoots on the imaginative and huge castle feature built on the slopes of Mottolino Fun Mountain. The Suzuki Nine Knights Big Air contest, recently declared an AFP Gold Level event, attracted the likes of X Games medalists Tom Wallisch, Russ Henshaw and Kai Mahler, current AFP Overall Ranking leader Gus Kenworthy, European Red Bull athletes Paddy Graham and Bene Mayr as well as local heros Raffaele and Davide Cusini.
The chosen few…
A week of unpleasant weather predictions made for an apprehensive mood at the start of the week. However, once everyone had a chance to check out the feature the vibes improved to all out stoke! "The feature is super sick," said Smith Optics athlete Gus Kenworthy, "there are a lot of different options, a big jump in the middle, two massive hips, two quarterpipes with a gap option, a canon rail, and a bunch of other rail options!" What more could you want in one feature?
Colby James West
The conditions were far from ideal at the start of the week with wind and snowfall making it difficult to session the castle as hard as possible. However, after the weather gods dumped forty centimeters of new snow on Mottolino, the clouds finally parted allowing for the definite highlight of the week: Big Thursday!
Nico Zacek on the Hip
Big Thursday started with a sunrise shoot, with everyone up on the hill by 6:30 hitting the main jump feature with the octo-copter hovering above and ecstatic photographers clicking away. A short nap and some food was followed by an epic heli shoot and all the riders throwing down, with up to five of them jumping the feature at one time. A sunset session followed with some unreal cloud formations providing the perfect backdrop for unsurpassable photos and video footage.
As it started getting darker numerous lights all around "Il Castello" were turned on, making the whole construction look even more spectacular. The riders proceeded to jump well into complete darkness as the lights continued to change colors, much to the delight of the photographers looking for different ambiences. Yes, Thursday was a very long and productive day for everyone involved and they were happy to have a more relaxed day on Friday while some additional riders had a chance to practice on the jump.
MVP of the week: Roy Kittler
Countless spectators turned up to the Big Air competition on Saturday, keen to see all the talented riders display their impressive trickery. Flat light and sticky snow made things a little difficult, however everyone threw down regardless, with Kai Mahler in 1st place, Gus Kenworthy in 2nd and Jonas Hunziker in 3rd. Kai impressed the judges, narrowly edging out Gus Kenworthy with a massive double cork 1080 tweaked mute grab and a superb double cork 1260 double japan grab to shifty.
After the Big Air contest the competitors and media contingent headed down to the valley for dinner, the week's photographer and riders awards presentation and of course the highly anticipated after-party. At the award show the four invited photographers presented their best images from the week, with every photographer judging each other's work. The photos were seriously sublime and the vocal audience made sure the work got the deserved applause. Louis Garnier won the awards for "Best Action" and "Best Creative Angle", Tim Lloyd won the award for "Best Black & White" while Alessandro Belluscio won the "Best Lifestyle" award. A special mention should be made of Nate Abbott who placed second in three of the categories.
Following the photography presentation a highlight reel of the week was shown and it was time for the riders to do some judging of their own. Tom Wallisch who had been charging every feature all week won a custom Suzuki Nine Knights iPad for "Best Overall Big Air". An all expenses paid trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich thanks to Power Balance went to Lolo Favre who took home the "Best Style" award for his crazy rodeo 540 screamin semen. The award for "Best Rail Rider" went to Gus Kenworthy who won a pair of Dotz rims for his incredible ninja jibbery. "Wanna be a Knight" video qualifier Roy Kittler won the "Most Valuable Player" award for going hard all week and stomping some sick bio 1260 blunt grabs. After the awards everyone headed into town for the after-party powered by Sweet Protection and downdays.eu, a fittingly awesome ending to a crazy week at the first Italian edition of the Suzuki Nine Knights at Mottolino in Livigno.
Congrats to all the athletes and photographers and see you next year!
After a great week here at Suzuki Nine Knights in Mottolino, Livigno we are slowly but surely starting to wrap things up. Most of you guys know by now the result of our Big Air competition on saturday: Kai Mahler (SUI) takes the win in front of Gus Kenworthy (USA) and Jonas Hunziker (SUI).
The podium guys being happy about their victory!
Here is an overview on all riding category winners:
- Best Big Air overall: Tom Wallisch
- Best Rail rider overall: Gus Kenworthy
- Best Style trick: Lolo Favre (Flatspin 540 screamin´seaman, nose grab)
- Big Air contest: 1st Kai Mahler, 2nd Gus Kenworthy, 3rd Jonas Hunziker
- MVP of the week: Roy Kittler
The winner of probably the most important category of the event was the one and only Tom Wallisch.
He received the title "Best overall ruler of the week on the kicker"…
… and he was stoked about his new Suzuki Nine Knights I pad and the special Nine Knights ring we got from Jewelry Köblinger in Innsbruck!
Gus is flying high above the Suzuki Nine Nights castello with a stylish nose grab. He got himself some new Dotz rims for his rail performance throughout the week!
Gus and his brand new Dotz rims
Lolo proving us, that he well deserved the "best style" award! Thanks to Power Balance he will enjoy a great day at the "Oktoberfest" with ten of his friends in munich. Lolo also received some new Dotz rims & the Suzuki Nine Knights special edition ring.
Lolo and his prices
Roy Kittler got the Suzuki Nine Knights "MVP" award. Roy was nominated at all other categories and definetly the rider with most hits on "il castello". Props to Roy, who was skiing sick all week!!!
Roys gets himself a brand new G-Shock watch!
Thanks to GORE-TEX® two lucky winners could enjoy the Suzuki Nine Knights contest day and the outstanding afterparty in Mottolino, Livigno!
Check out the full contest wrap up video one more time…. and check back tomorrow for the results of the photo competition!
Nine Knights Ski 2012 | Big Air Finals