The inaugural Ale Invite presented by Kevin Bäckström and Tor Lundström went down this past Saturday 28th February 2015, bringing some of the world's finest big air snowboarders to Alebacken, for the biggest World Snowboard Event on the Swedish calendar.
While Kevin Bäckström and Tor Lundström have certainly been involved in their fair share of controversy over the years, it has to be said that Kev and Tor have really stepped it up this winter. Between them they've made it to most of the big slopestyle and big air contests, and still found time to film both backcountry and street for their excellent BYND x MDLS web series.
If that wasn't all enough, the boys decided to try their hand at creating their very own snowboard event, with the aim of bringing their friends together in one place for a laid-back contest showcasing some great snowboarding. With backing from the World Snowboard Tour, and a hearty list of external sponsors, the Ale Invite was born, and went down for the first time ever this past Saturday in the tiny town of Alebacken, 25km North of Gothenberg, Sweden.
While a lack of snow almost had the event sidelined, you have to applaud the organisers for managing to scrape together just enough for a patchy run in and landing when it counted, and it certainly didn't stop the assembled riders - some of the biggest names in snowboarding - from getting stuck into the 18m table.
The qualification heats brought the kind of technicality you'd expect from the likes of Sebastien Toutant, Max Parrot and Seppe Smits with 1080s, 1260s and 1440s interspersed by slow, stylish tricks.
It's always rad to see Halldor Helgason sending it, especially after his absence from some of the major contests this season - including the X Games - and as always he brought unpredictability and crazy tricks to the mix. Young Marcus Kleveland's laid out backflip was a definite highlight, while Tor Lundstrom sent a backside 1080 double cork to the bottom of the landing to qualify first in his own event.
By the time finals came around, the sun had dropped below the tree line, changing up the atmosphere and masking the remarkable lack of snow around the setup. The riders continued to boss it, stepping up their game in an attempt to land two solid tricks in the 'best 2 runs out of 3 count' format.
Kevin Bäckström came out guns blazing with a an absolute bolts frontside 1080 mute, while Sven Thorgren was set on stomping his signature cab 1260 roastbeef/nosegrab double grab combo. Many of the riders where clearly finding it difficult to ride away clean with the constantly changing snow conditions, and those who did reaped the rewards.
Max Parrot's first run was one of the standout tricks of the finals, a bolts cab 1440 double cork, and his huge score of 47, combined with a smooth second run backside 1260 was ultimately what helped him edge out Sven Thorgren's backside 1440 mute and cab 1260 to the top of the podium. Finland's Roope Tonteri rounded out the top 3.
The finals weren't without their memorable moments either, with Marcus Kleveland saving his bacon with a cat-like recovery on a planned cab spin turned to an accidental frontflip revert. Also worthy of a mention was Sebastien Toutant's final hit - a crazy stylish flatspun backside 900 off the heels, a trick you rarely see go down in big air contests.
While it certainly wasn't the slickest contest we've seen this season, the first ever Ale Invite was a huge success, harkening back to days of sketchy setups, friend-fuelled progression and good times taking precedent over podium positions.
Huge props to Kevin and Tor for pulling it off - for the first time since their web series BYND x MDLS' conception, we think we get where they were coming from with the title.