Chur, a small city in the east of Switzerland near the borders of both Italy and Austria, is perhaps best known as being the closest main city to the ski resorts of Davos, Arosa and of course, Laax. Perhaps not a place you’ve heard of but for the last three seasons Chur has been the host city of Big Air Chur, the first ‘in the city’ snowboard competition of the winter and thanks to its FIS World Cup status, a hotly contested one.
As the cooler autumn weather dropped the leaves from the trees, the event area was bustling with activity as crews from across Switzerland built the kicker and arena for Big Air Chur. When they were finished, hundreds of tons of steel scaffolding had been used to construct a 42m high kicker, ready for Big Air Chur.
The Autumn pre-season brings hundreds of pro riders from around the world to the European Alps, to train on glaciers and get their legs shred ready for the comp season ahead and the accreditation of Big Air Chur as the first FIS World Cup event of the winter guaranteed a heavy-hitting line up of pro riders. Things were about to get busy.
Big Air Chur is more than just a spin-to-win huckfest for those in search Olympic qualification points – it’s a full-on cultural extravaganza where all the things that makes winter sports so vital comes together. The mountains, insane snowboarding (and yes, skiing too), all bundled up with a crowd of thousands and a TV audience of millions with live performances and parties a plenty.
Talking of live music, this year’s event featured some of the best out there, including Ski Aggu, Nest and the Blondes, Nina Chuba, Makko with Scooter headlining the Friday and G Easy closing things out on Saturday.
The schedule called for the ski event to take place on Friday with snowboarding on Saturday, however a rain deluge of epic proportions shut down the Friday event almost completely and made holding Saturday’s snowboard finals ‘challenging’ to say the least. An insane level of hard work form the organisers and Schneestern park crew however meant the rebuilt jump on Saturday was in prime condition, even with the continuing rainfall.
Despite an enormous line up of international riders, snowboard finals were almost totally dominated by Japanese riders, who took five out of the six podium places.
Leading the way in the Men’s Final was Hiroto Ogiwara, who first ever World Cup podium was gold, with a switch backside 1620 melon on his first hit, and with a switch frontside 1620 Weddle on run number two for a total of 171.50. Kira Kimura took second with a two-jump score of 168.00, his second World Cup podium in his second World Cup event – a pretty good average! Taking third place and completing the Japanese sweep was last year’s Big Air Chur winner, Takeru Otsuka, who went switch backside 1620 melon on run one, then backside 1620 melon on run two, walking away with a 167.50, just 0.5 off second place.
In the women’s division Murase Kokomo took her second big air World Cup win almost two years after her first, also at Big Air Chur, landing a backside double cork 1080 Weddle with a frontside 1080 truck for a two-jump score of 179.25. Second went to last year’s Big Air Chur winner and relative veteran Reira Iwabuchi, who claimed a two run score of 175.50 – her 14th career World Cup podium!
So who managed to break the Japanese domination of all six podiums spots? None other than The Reason Rider of the Year 2024,17-year-old Mia Brookes, rounding out a frankly insane year and stomping the highest scoring trick of the evening – a massive cab 1080 melon – and then following up with a backside 900 Indy for a combined 169.75 and third place.
So that was it for 2024, another year in Chur and another killer kick off to the winter season. Perhaps Australian Valentino Guseli, last season’s FIS Park and Pipe World Cup overall winner said it best – “I love this event!”