As we travelled up the lift this morning the whole of the lower half of Laax was littered with top tier professional snowboarders making the most of the snow
One almost got the vibe that no one really minded if the event could get underway - as Henry Jackson announced over the PA that the slopestyle eliminations had been cancelled again due to poor visibility and a slow course, there was a barely perceptible whoop as half the field headed off for the woods. But once the halfpipe contest got underway, it was clear that it was game on.
It's brain-bending seeing halfpipe done right up close, even more so when the greybird is so severe that from the top you can't see the bottom of Laax's 200 metre pipe, riders were literally vanishing into the mist. Oliver Gittler and Markus Keller were the first two to drop, the latter opting for a 180cm+ swallow tail to see him down, both taking advantage of the Burton's Hawaiian-themed event to slash and surf out of the bottom section, and just like that it was game on.
The conditions were tricky, but it helped the judges sort the wheat from the chaff, riders like Arthur Longo and Christian Haller were still able to send their hits almost to the moon despite the rapidly powder-full flat bottom. Unfortunately from a packed field only ten riders could progress, but judging by the names of the qualified riders below, Sunday's finals will be one to watch.
Men's Halfpipe Eliminations Results
During the women's heats the weather came in even harder, meaning that more snow and even colder temps forced all but the hardiest fans away from the viewing area. Still, there was plenty of drama as just after Chloe Kim pipped Kelly Clark to X Games gold last weekend, the pipe veteran bit back and bested the youngster by just over a point.
But by the end of play it was the Spanish Queralt Castellet that qualified in first position. She's long been tipped to be the next big thing in women's halfpipe, whether or not that's true will have to wait until Sunday...
Women's Halfpipe Eliminations Results