http://mpora.com/videos/AIgGFqzhj Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant a.k.a. Seb Toots has won the inaugural Air and Style contest in Beijing, China. His winning trick – a cab 1260 double cork which you can watch in the video above – was perfectly stomped and enough to push Seppe Smits and Elias Elhardt into second and third place respectively.
Early word filtering back from this much hyped new event is that the competition was a big success. China is a potentially massive new market for snowboarding, and like those FIFA powerbrokers keen to take the World Cup to new frontiers, the TTR World Tour were excited at the potential of bringing the Air & Style – the oldest and arguably most prestigious big air competition in the world – to a massive new audience in the far east, with Shaun White on board as a title ‘sponsor’. White himself didn’t even compete in the contest, but like David Beckham pressing flesh in Zurich he was apparently kept very busy in an ambassadorial role, conducting up to 20 interviews a day.
So, what of the riding? Well, after a brief demo in which a crew of local Chinese riders entertained the home crowd in the old Olympic Stadium, 18 of the world’s biggest pros took to the jump and, as expected, the knockout-format took no prisoners. The tightest of the first round match-ups was between Marco Grilc (winner of the 2009 Innsbruck Air & Style) and style master Mikkel Bang. In the end the judges – which included none other than Whitelines’ own columnist Devun Walsh and the legendary Ingemar Backman – plumped for Mikkel’s switch back 12 over Marco’s back 10 double cork, but by only 0.3 points.
The superfinal saw Bang up against Germany’s Elias Elhardt, Belgium’s Seppe Smits (yep, Belgium – a country with no mountains whatsoever!) and Sebastien Toutant. The double corks were being thrown down left right and centre, but in the end it was Seb Toot’s cab 12 that saw him walk away with his first 6-star title and a cool $50,000 in prizemoney. Biggest cheer of the night? That would be a certain Halldor Helgason, who stole the show with a simple laid-out backflip. Seems Chinese crowds are no harder to please than any other…
Oakley/Shaun White presents Air & Style Beijing – Superfinal Results:
1. Sebastien Toutant
2. Seppe Smits
3. Elias Elhardt
4. Mikkel Bang