The countdown to the 2013 Winter X-Games in Aspen, Colorado officially kicked off last night with the release of this year's eight Real Snow video parts. The Real Snow gold medal will ultimately be awarded by a panel of judges but over the next few weeks leading up to the start of Winter X (on the 24th of January), the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite riders in a series of head to head battles to determine the fan favourite. Once again, the rider line up is a heavy one, with last year's gold medal winner Dan Brisse and fan favourite Louif Paradis both returning with new parts. Real Snow veterans Jeremy Jones and Pat Moore are back with heavy parts and are joined by newcomers Ethan Deiss and Frank April. Rounding out the field are one-foot master Bode Merrill and Finnish machine Eero Ettala. Will this be a one horse race to the finish line or will the bookies be left tearing their hair out?
Here's what we make of each part along with who we're tipping to take each of the first round victories:
Eero Ettala vs. Ethan Deiss:
Anyone that's familiar with Eero Ettala's Cooking with Gas part will notice the similarities between that part and this one. It's all shot in Finland, where (in the winter) the sun don't shine and the ground's always covered in snow and it's full of the big, clean, technical riding that we've come to expect from Eero. In terms of spots and tricks, this part's got everything really: burly wallrides, frontflips off ledges, big spins onto rails and a sick double backflip over a skate bowl. A really solid, albeit tad formulaic, part.
If Ethan Deiss keeps this sort of riding up he's gonna be dragging himself around on his hands by the time he hits forty... Seriously, the kid goes huge and certainly isn't shy of a flat landing or two. He also manages to make everything look as effortless as flicking a light switch - which may actually mask just how difficult some of these tricks are. Look out for the huge 270 transfer from flat to down on the kinked rail second trick in as well as one massively high consequence wallride to wallride.
Verdict: This one's really tough to call. On the one hand you've got a ton of mass appeal 'wow factor' kinda stuff with Eero's section and on the other you've got the kind of lazy, technical riding that will have the core kids nodding in approval. While we probably prefer Ethan's part we reckon Eero will probably juuust take this one.
Dan Brisse vs. Bode Merrill:
There's a reason why Dan Brisse is the reigning Real Street champion. The guy is a bloody nutter. He'd probably wallride down the flippin Shard if given the opportunity. Overall, this is probably the most consistently burly part of all of 'em. We weren't massively stoked on the editing but fortunately the riding really speaks for itself.
Bode Merrill is one ridiculously talented dude and his part is predictably insane. Every single trick is innovative, massive or just plain bat-shit crazy. One-foot backflips off multi-storey carparks, one of the harshest kinked c-rails we've ever seen and an awesome waterslide transfer are just some of the madness you'll witness in this.
Verdict: This one's not quite as close in our eyes. While both parts are beasts in their own right, Bode's just seems that much more varied and memorable to us. We think he'll be making it all the way to the finals with this one.
Jeremy Jones vs. Frank April
Jeremy Jones has been in the game for yonks and has pretty much filmed more video parts than years i've been alive. You've got to give him credit for continuing to come up with new and interesting tricks. However while the bouncing off of the fence stuff is pretty cool it also feels like we've seen a lot of this stuff before. We can't help but feel that the other guys are just going far bigger and getting way more tech than Jezza here.
Although a newcomer to the Real Snow competition, French-Canadian Frank April is no noob when it comes to riding urban stuff. Frank is technical, stylish and creative all at the same time - not bad for a tall dude. Anyway, this part is the shit and if it's any indication as to what the quality of the footage is gonna be like in the Deja-Vu project that both Frank and Louif are involved in, it's going to blow minds.
Verdict: Frank April, hands down.
Louif Paradis vs Pat Moore:
Louif is fast becoming one of the most celebrated jibbers in recent memory. His style is so clean and understated and his trick choice so spot on every time that it really is difficult to fault him. The rail to rail transfers are all executed with surgical precision and that hand-drag over the metal arch thing is just something else. Louif just pipped Halldor Helgason by the tiniest of margins last year to take the fan-favourite title and we're pretty sure he'll be going far in this year's contest as well.
Like Dan Brisse, Pat Moore is one of those guys who just just sends it, without fail, every time. He's a work horse, and one with iron legs at that. Every one of these shots is a banger and this fully rivals Dan's part as the most gnarly in terms of the scale of the features he's hitting. Interesting to see that he's on a Volcom board as well...
Verdict: It's going to be another close one although we think Louif will take it. It's a shame that Pat was drawn against such a tough competitor though because his part rips!
Anyways, these are just our two cents - do you agree with our verdicts? Have a look at the parts yourself (and vote for your favourites here) and let us know!