One of the biggest events of the year is kicking off tomorrow with the biggest names rolling into LAAX, Switzerland for heated competition to kick off the new year.
The snowboard community from around the world has descended upon Laax once again this week, and that of course includes an absolutely stacked line-up of competitors in both Slopestyle and Halfpipe.
Names gracing the start list include Marcus Kleveland (NOR), Mark McMorris (CAN), Anna Gasser (AUT), Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL), Cai Xuetong (CHN), Queralt Castellet (SPA), Jan Scherrer (SUI), Scotty James (AUS), Valentino Guseli (AUS), Tess Coady (AUS) + LOTS more.
The men’s preliminary rounds in slopestyle will be kicking things off, and on Thursday the halfpipe riders will get into proper contest action!
Now, how to watch? The event is being global streamed and you can tune into both the Snowboard Slopestyle + Halfpipe finals on Sunday morning. 3:15am on 22 Jan for Slopestyle and then a more reasonable hour for Halfpipe at 7:30am.
It’s a fresh slate for all riders at the Laax Open, as this week marks the first of four World Cup slopestyle competitions set to go down this season. As mentioned, the women’s and men’s startlists for both the slopestyle and halfpipe events are too stacked to do full justice in the preview, but we’ll look at a few key names below…
Last year’s second-place Laax slopestyle finisher Anna Gasser (AUT) comes into this week fresh off a hugely-impressive big air victory on home soil in Kreischberg, where she triumphed despite some simply groundbreaking performances up and down the women’s finals.
Gasser was able to hold off reigning Beijing 2022 slopestyle gold medallist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (NZL) and her first-time-stomped-in-competition switch backside 1260 in Kreischberg, which may give the the 21-year-old New Zealander a little extra fire to take the next step to the top of the podium this weekend.
Last year’s Laax winner and Beijing 2022 Olympic bronze medallist Tess Coady will be looking to go back-to-back in Laax this week, although she might need a bit of a reset after the disappointment of not making the finals this past weekend in Kreischberg.
Japan’s Kokomo Murase finished third behind Gasser and Sadowski-Synnott in Kreischberg on Saturday, and last season’s slopestyle and Park & Pipe overall crystal globe winner leads a typically strong Japanese team that also includes this year’s big air crystal globe winner Reira Iwabuchi, Miyabi Onitsuka and rising star Mari Fukada.
North America will be well represented, with 2020 Laax Open winner and Beijing 2022 silver medallist Julia Marino and Hailey Langland of the USA dropping in, while their neighbours to the north the Canadians have Edmonton big air World Cup winner Jasmine Baird and reigning big air World Champion Laurie Blouin.
Keep a close eye on Mia Brookes, the 15 year old who wowed the crowd in Kreischberg with the first ever flat-spin 1260 landed in a women’s snowboard competition last weekend. Brookes’ rail game is arguably stronger than her jumps, so she could be a force come Saturday.
And don’t forget about Annika Morgan of Germany, last season’s third-place finisher in Laax, who’s on site for her first competition of the season and looking to do a little shredding in between DJ sets.
McMorris only has one Laax Open start since it become a World Cup event (which came back in 2017, where he scored second place), and it goes without saying that the snowboard world is excited to see one of the most decorated and influential riders in snowboard history back on site at snowboarding’s premier competition. With McMorris, Darcy Sharpe, Nic Laframboise, and young gun Cameron Spaulding dropping in, the Canadian contingent is looking sneaky strong.
Last season’s slopestyle crystal globe winner Tiarn Collins of New Zealand is back from injury and ready to roll for his first competition of the season, while his fellow southern hemisphere representative Valentino Guseli of Australia is fresh off becoming the youngest-ever men’s big air crystal globe winner, and looking to keep that momentum rolling in his quest for this season’s Park & Pipe overall crystal globe.
Fan favourites Rene Rinnekangas of Finland and Sven Thorgren of Sweden, Emiliano Lauzi, Ian Matteoli and a deep Italian team, Nicolas Huber and Moritz Boll of the host Swiss…the list goes on and on.