This year will see the first ever World Snowboard Championships - a TTR organised event - held at Winter Park in Oslo. The event kicks off this Friday (February 10th) and runs until the 19th. Most mags will be waiting until next week to start bringing you reports, videos and images, but like the Russians in Tinker, Tailor, Whitelines has a mole on the inside - right at the very top. Unlike the Russians, our spy's identity isn't secret. He's Joe Cavanagh, a Brit with a wealth of shaping experience who's helping to create the courses that the world's best will be riding in just under a week's time. He'll be bringing us regular updates and giving you a unique insight into what goes on behind the scenes to make these major contests happen. Here's his first blog:
Right then! Its all come together in the last few days. The production area looks more like an arena than an industrial estate in Southend and the hill looks more like a slopestyle course now that the snow making has stopped and the cats have managed to get on the hill.
At the moment the focus is on getting the superpipe and the slopestyle finished before the guys crack on with the quaterpipe over at Holmenkollen. The pipe is being looked after by Snow Park Technologies who do all the courses for X Games, Dew Tour and most of the big competitions in America - those guys work like Trojans! They start about 10am each morning and don’t head home till about 11pm and although they are mostly pushing the snow up the walls and getting a bit more shape to it, you can tell its going to be sick.
If you’ve ever seen any footage of The Arctic Challenge you know that the feature layout is always pretty technical and Viking sized - and this year they are making it bigger. The course designer Claes Högström is pretty much the cats pyjamas - there's a reason why Torstein Horgmo said that the course last year was the best he had ever seen. When you look at some of the original sketches (see all the features below) hopefully you can understand why the snow cannons had to be on for three days solid using about 10,000 litres of water a minute. Lucky they have all these fjords really isnt it?
Claes brings in Steve Petrie the owner of Arena Snowparks (who have the contract for the Whistler Blackcomb Park and Camp of Champions) to help him build the course as well as using cat drivers from Tryvann. This really is the who’s who of park designers and cat drivers bringing the features to form. The plan is to upgrade The Arctic Challenge course from 2011 using feedback they got from the riders and media as well as creating features of different sizes to cater to all abilities by offering two options on each feature.
During the competition its going to take 28 volunteers to act as shapers, marshalls and security for the course which works out as about four people for each of the six features. In my opinion these are the people that receive some of the least credit, it sounds stupid but I challenge anyone to stand for ten hours a day in the cold for nine days in a row always keeping an eye out for crashes, people snaking the course and riders landing on your head (Mikkel Bang almost landed BS 1080 on my face at the Burton NZ Open!) and not be exhausted.
The majority of the people that work here are all volunteers that give up their time in the name of snowboarding. 30 Countries are represented this year and it's genuinely amazing to see the sense of community that snowboarding has to bring people from across the world together for one goal. Apparently there was even an offer to volunteer from a guy in Africa!
You can tell everyone here is even more motivated to put on a competition to rival the X Games series. The qualified riders list is already doing the rounds on the net, so it's all down to wildcards to see who else is going to be coming along. Torstein, Halldor Helgason, Mikkel and Sage Kotsenberg have been given wildcards for the men's slopestyle, with Sarka Pancochova and Torah Bright being given wildcards for women's slopestyle and halfpipe respectively. More from me soon…