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Marko Grilc wins the Billabong Air & Style

http://mpora.com/videos/g72FR8mgi After an epic weekend of snowboarding, music and mayhem, Marko Grilc was crowned the winner of this year’s Air & Style. As those of you who were following our tweets will know, the Slovenian won the big air contest after consistently stomping a variety of impressive tricks, including the switch backside ten late-cork which sealed the deal on his victory. Have a look at the TTR video highlights below to see the trick and an interview with the man of the moment, or check out this second video edit here.

Norwegian style wizard Torstein Horgmo warms up in practice - all photos Tristan Kennedy

Grilc’s win was made all the more impressive by the fact that he was not one of the original 16 riders invited to the contest – he was drafted in as a late replacement for Seb Toots, who had nailed himself in practice on Thursday.

Niki Korpela, one of the most talented rookies at the contest, got third

But from the off, Marko rode like he was in it to win it, beating Antti Autti and local hero Werni Stock on his way to the final. The big Norwegian Andreas Wiig claimed third place behind 2008-09 TTR world champion Peetu Pirroinen, while Iouri Podlatchikov finished fourth, as the near-capacity crowd whipped up an incredibly intense atmosphere inside the Olympic ski-jumping arena.

Earlier in the evening, the young riders competing in the Rookie Challenge had set the tone, stomping an incredible array of tricks in an attempt to win a place in next year’s event proper.

Niki Korpela, Forum’s Finnish wunderkind, landed a frontside 1440, but a slightly sloppy landing meant he lost out to Tom Klocker and Belgium’s Seppe Smits, whose backside 12 impressed the judges.

The atmosphere created by the huge crowd was amazing

When it came time for the big guns to take centre stage, the level of riding was stepped up once again – Travis Rice decided to throw down a double-backflip on his presentation run, much to the delight of the packed-out Bergasil Stadium. As the competition proper began, the much-vaunted double-corks took centre stage, with Elias Elhardt, Marko Grilc and Peetu Piiroinen stomping late-corked 1080 variations on the trick, while local boy and crowd favourite Gigi Ruf narrowly missed landing his double cork.

Corwd favourite Travis Rice was knocked out in the first round by Andreas Wiig

An intense first round saw some of the biggest names knocked out of the head-to-head knockout format contest, including Gigi, who lost out to the stomping machine that is Peetu Piiroinen, Travis, who lost out to Andreas Wiig, and Chas Guldemond, who was beaten by Werni Stock’s super-tech front ten, which he spun off the toes.

Eero Ettala's big slow switch backside 180s were one of the highlights of the contest

With all the technical wizardry being thrown down, there was still time for some good old-fashioned style tricks. Eero Ettala, who always looks super-comfortable in contest situations, punctuated each of his three-run rounds with massive switch backside 180s sandwiched between his big 1080 variations. Although he beat his firend and countryman Risto Mattila in the first round, these stylee interventions weren’t enough to get him past Peetu.

Eventually the field of 16 was whittled down to the final four. Iouri Podlatchikov, who had been stomping his trademark double backside rodeo 9s (two backflips followed by a 180) all night, unfortunately failed to stick the trick on his final run. Andreas had two attempts at a double-cork, the second of which ended in a nasty-looking slam that broke his board. Undaunted, the massive Viking dropped in on the snapped stick and stomped the trick the third time round. Peetu’s late-corked ten was enough for him to claim second place.

But in the end, it was to be Grilc’s night. The Slovenian calmly ensured that the weekend finished with a fairy tale ending by stomping spins in all directions, including his instantly recognisable double-backflip. The result takes Grilc to the top of the TTR leader board, ahead of the nan he replaced, Sebastien Toutant. With Sweden’s finest the Hives rocking the crazy crowd at the Bergasil, the celebrations continued well into the night, bringing an awesome weekend to a successful conclusion.

Grilc whips out his double-backflip for the win

Billabong Air & Style Innsbruck 09: Final results
1 Marko Grilc SLO 281 Pkt. Switch Backside 1080 Double Corked Mute Grab
2 Peetu Piroiinen FIN 268 Pkt. Backside 1080 Double Corked Mute Grab
3 Andreas Wiig NOR 251 Pkt. Frontside 1080 Double Flip
4 Iouri Podladtchikov SUI 54 Pkt.
5 Eero Ettala FIN
6 Werner Stock AUT
7 Elias Elhardt GER
8 Torstein Horgmo NOR
9 Antti Autti FIN
10 Marc Swoboda AUT
11 Chas Guldemond USA
12 Stefan Gimpl AUT
13 Risto Mattila FIN
14 Tim Humphreys USA
15 Travis Rice USA
16 Gigi Rüf AUT

Billabong Air & Style Innsbruck 09: Top 3 Rookie Challenge
1 Seppe Smits BEL 254 Pkt. Backside 1260 Mute
2 Tom Klocker AUT 244 Pkt. Frontside 1080 Indy
3 Niki Korpela FIN 239 Pkt. Frontside 1440 Melon

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