The Audi Nines is one of the most visually spectacular and progressive events in the European freestyle snowsports calendar. Nobody is doing it bigger, better or more creatively and we can’t get enough of it at The Ski Club.

2019 marks the 11th year of this event series which provides a platform for freestyle athletes to pull out show-stopping tricks in parks engineered to produce mind-blowing results. The word park doesn’t really do the space justice though… The Audi Nines is more like a theme park… with roller coaster loops, enormous launchpads and even wall rides – as if somebody gave a child a pencil to draw a fantasy snowsports obstacle course and then built it. I’m sure the architects and engineers at Shneestern might not appreciate that analogy, but it’s a compliment! The event took place in Sölden and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl this year, consisting of one week of pure park fun leading up to two public days: a night shoot on the April 24 and a final showdown at contest day on April 27. 

Audi Nines Creator Nico Zacek said:
“The Audi Nines is a week of bringing together athletes, filmers and photographers to progress action sports. I think the most special thing about the event is that we try to create the best setup on planet Earth. It has big features, safe features and creative features. No one else in the world is putting as much effort into their setups as we are.”

Building on the success of last year’s Audi Nines debut in Sölden, for the first time the event took place simultaneously in not one but two different resort locations, expanding into Obergurgl-Hochgurgl with a park built especially for women. After reviewing athlete feedback from last year’s event, there was a resounding call to once again create a unique micro-cosmos for females during the weeklong film and photo sessions, providing the right setting to maximise their own progression. This collaborative philosophy is why The Audi Nines was elated to announce dual locations for this event, specifically tailoring the needs and feedback of the athletes. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl hosted a ladies takeover where female riders, female photographers and, for the first time in event history, a team of female shapers gathered for an exclusive week-long progression session. 

Obergurgl is a favourite resort among Ski Club Members, hosting popular Freshtracks holidays and our Leader service

Every year fans look forward to seeing what the creators will come up with next because each contest has brought a wave of change to what was originally a freeski event. It is this passion for progression that led to the first all-female event, Nine Queens, in 2011, followed by the inclusion of snowboarders in 2013 and culminating with Nine Royals in 2017. In 2018, the event series undertook its most ambitious reinvention yet: The Audi Nines, which for the first time included ski and snowboardcross athletes to expand the scope of the event even further, inviting athletes to thread along a labyrinthine lattice of runs and showcase even more snowsports disciplines.

Big Air female ski winner Johanne Killi said:

“It’s so nice to be here and ski with everyone. It’s the best event I’ve ever been to, so I’m really stoked to be here. The setup is always crazy, with the best jumps that I’ve jumped. I’m really stoked that I’m able to be here and watch everyone.”

 So what’s new?

This year saw 48 riders come together and tackle a brand new futuristic setup in two resorts with the theme being Return to the Future. This setup provided even more room for progressive freestyle features like the ‘UFO’ jib at Obergurgl and the instantly iconic ‘Launch Pad’ at Sölden. These new alien features were designed to test the nerve of competitors and launch them safely into the stratosphere. The women’s setup featured two angled kickers, a massive Big Air jump and a unique ‘Space Age’ jib designed together with riders like Spencer O’Brien, an X Games athlete.

She said: “It’s so special to be involved in the planning of one of my favourite sessions,” said O’Brien. “It’s a dream come true to work together with the other girls and the organisers to bring the perfect setup to life.”

Meanwhile up on the glacier at Sölden, the men’s venue hosted a colossal quarterpipe, and two Big Air jumps flanking one of  The Audi Nines’ most visually spectacular features yet: a 10-meter high, 2.5-meter wide ramp dubbed ‘The Launch Pad,’ which propelled those daring enough to try it over a 32-meter gap. The lower section of the venue featured a unique transition playground with a plethora of transfer options, a massive curved wallride, and some sneakily designed ‘wormhole’ tunnels providing riders with unexpected shortcuts across the space-time continuum. This level of innovation in the course design wouldn’t be possible without the help of athletes like long time Nines collaborator Jesper Tjäder, whose input has been crucial.
 
“The transitions of the features, such as the open loops and transfer sections will create rhythm and speed like no other course,” Tjäder remarked."

Who was on the lineup?

The stellar lineup of riders had eight Olympic medals, 21 World Championships and 123 X Games medals between them. On the women’s snowboard side, Anna Gasser, the first female snowboarder to land a cab triple underflip was joined by USA legend Jamie Anderson, 2019 Laax Open winner Silje Norendal and 17-year-old rising star Zoi Sadowski-Synnott. A strong Japanese contingent was present, including Yuka Fujimori, Miyubi Onitsuka and Reira Iwabuchi.

On the men’s side, snowboard heavyweight Ståle Sandbech made his Audi Nines debut, joining other top Scandinavian riders like Sven Thorgren, Roope Tonteri and the legend himself, Terje Håkonsen.
On the skiing side, the Swiss power duo of Sarah Hoefflin and Mathilde Gremaud joined the party alongside Audi Nines stalwarts Coline Ballet-Baz, Johanne Killi and Emma Dahlström. For the men, two-time Olympic halfpipe champion David Wise fronted a list of amazing talent including Swiss phenomenon Andri Ragettli — the first skier to land a quad cork at this very event — and other Audi Nines regulars like Jesper Tjäder, Bene Mayr and Alex Beaulieu-Marchand. 

Ladies Mixtape

 

Otherworldly Contest Day Action

After a week of riding the Audi Nines’ one-of-a-kind features for film and photo shoots, the invited riders were more than ready to throw down in Saturday’s Big Air contest. The result was easily the most impressive display of skiing and snowboarding seen yet at The Audi Nines, with an extremely high level and multiple tricks never seen before in competition. Highlights from the event included world-first tricks like Fabian Bösch’s triple misty 1620, massive rotations like Andri Ragettli’s quad cork 1980, and record-breaking achievements like David Wise’s new Highest Air record of 11.7 meters (38 feet, 4 inches) on a quarterpipe to banked landing. All of this was made possible by the Audi Nines’ continuing dedication to creating spectacularly sculpted snow features optimised for safety to bring the impossible within grasping distance.

Commenting on David Wise’s achievement, Nico Zacek said: “That was beautiful to watch him having so much fun while doing such an incredible trick.”

Contest Day Judge, Tobi Reindl said:

“The level on the contest day was truly incredible. I didn’t recognize the sport anymore.”

And the winners are...

In front of a crowd of several thousand at Sölden’s Tiefenbach Glacier, Norway's Johanne Killi and Finland's Elias Syrjä took the win in the ski category. Norway also came out top in the men's snowboard category where Mons Røisland triumphed and Japanese rider Yuka Fujimori scored highest in the women's category. 

Elias Syrjä said: “Being on the podium at the Audi Nines feels so great, especially since I got invited as a part of the video contest. To actually win after that feels unreal. The park was so good. Everything was so big, but still so safe so you could go big and still without impact."

Yuka Fujimori said: “I’m so happy to be on the podium. It’s wonderful. The highlight for me was the second day. I came for the shoot, the weather was awesome, and we had a really good session."

Finland’s Syrjä originally won his ticket to Audi Nines through the ‘Become A Nine’ contest. He triumphed in the Big Air with the help of highly technical tricks like a triple cork 1260 safety, a switch triple 1260 screamin’ Seaman and a show-stopping switch double cork 900 nose grab, during which he held onto the grab while landing — a feat few in the world are capable of performing. Norway’s Killi prevailed in the women’s ski contest with the help of a cork 900 tail grab and a switch 540 nose grab.

Audi Nines contest edit

 

What about snowboarding?

On the snowboard side, Japan’s Fujimori clinched victory with a frontside double 900 and a backside 900 Indy, taking the top spot of a women’s podium dominated by Japanese riders. Norwegian rider Mons Røisland captured the win among the men with a switch backside 1620, frontside triple cork 1440, and a switch backside 540 for his style trick. Other exciting moments from the contest included Sven Thorgren’s triple backside rodeo, Andri Ragettli’s world-first switch triple misty 1620 and Sebbe de Buck’s heartstopping double front flip off the Launch Pad feature, all bringing roars of approval from the appreciative crowd. Rounding out the list of contest victors were Nico Porteous and Jan Scherrer, who won the “Best Trick” category on the quarterpipe to banked landing—Porteous with an alley-oop double flatspin 1080 japan and Scherrer with a switch McTwist method.

Snowboard Men’s winner Mons Røisland said:
“It feels great to be on the podium. This contest, I’ve never been at it before, but it’s one of the coolest contests there is to me, and ending up on top of that is pretty crazy, So I’m really really hyped.”

“The setup is insane. They build the craziest features I’ve ever seen, like the metal Launch Ramp, which is crazy, two of the best jumps you can ever find, and the quarterpipes to banked landing. People have been killing it all over, so it’s been awesome even as a spectator, just watching everything and not just riding.”

“The highlight of the week has probably been watching Sebbe de Buck going off the Launch Ramp. He’s been doing stuff that you shouldn’t be able to do off of the big Launch Ramp. He’s been doing 1080s frontside and backside, double front flips… it’s crazy, people don’t even want to hit that thing, and he just killed it as if it were a normal jump.”

How do you become a Nine?

Each year new candidates and returning veterans are given the chance to ride the innovative course by sending in their ‘Become a Nine’ application video. The online qualification is for every male and female freeskier and snowboarder, pros and amateurs alike, from all over the world. The event is famed for its friendly atmosphere which nurtures talent and brings out the very best in riders. Among the line-up we had first timers, veterans and Olympians all on the same stage. Representing the UK was James ‘Woodsy’  whose infectious energy and excitement kept us hooked on social media.

Rulers and style icons

In addition to the Contest Day victories, rider-judged awards were given to the best performers throughout the week.
On the snowboard side, Sebbe de Buck and Laurie Blouin were voted by their peers as the 'Rulers of the Week'. De Buck also won the vote for 'Best Style' alongside his female counterpart Yuka Fujimori. Among the skiers, Lukas Müllauer and Tess Ledeux were crowned Rulers of the Week, while Johanne Killi and Ferdinand Dahl took home“Best Style” honours.

Creator Nico Zacek said:

“The best thing about the 2019 Audi Nines was the vibes. It’s just been a week of pure fun. It wasn’t always easy with the weather, but everyone involved gave their best. This week was probably the best skiing and snowboarding I’ve ever seen.”

One again snowsports athletes wrote history with their dedication and passion. The event continues to manifest its philosophy of seeking evolution and collaboration with the world’s top athletes, course designers and media production to create a truly unique spectacle. We are already counting down to next year.