Rory Bushfield - Swatch Skiers Cup, Day 1/Big Mountain, at Valle Nevado, Chile. Photo: SWATCH/Maxim Balakhovskiy

Rory Bushfield - Swatch Skiers Cup, Day 1/Big Mountain, at Valle Nevado, Chile. Photo: SWATCH/Maxim Balakhovskiy

From the Swatch Skiers Cup — VALLE NEVADO, CHILE (September 5) — Under a blazing South American sun at 3900m, 16 members of the world's freeskiing cream battled it out today in the expansive helicopter-accessed wilderness adjacent to Valle Nevado resort. When the powder settled, Team Europe had overwhelmed Team Americas six wins to two in a series of 8 man-to-man ski-offs on the Big Mountain course.

High Plains Action:
Chilean Chopo Diaz (28 years old) brought down the house early in competition, bettering France's Seb Michaud with an enormous air towards the top of the venue. This put Team Americas on the scoreboard, followed by Oakley White-Allen (USA) who would gain them yet another point today in his duel with Australian Chris Booth.

Their glory was short-lived, however, as Team Europe would blast each of the remaining six heats in today's Big Mountain competition. Of particular note was seasoned Big Mountain powerhouse Henrik Windstedt (Sweden) whose solid skill shone throughout the 400m descent, dropping several cliffs and ousting Canada's James Heim.

Team Europe would send no better into the fray than Italy's Markus Eder (20 years old) who took opponent Josh Bibby to the cleaners by heading to skier's left for a line only visible from the helicopter that took him to the start gate. Eder would drop a series of couloirs and 10 to 15m cliffs in a high-speed charge to the finish. A strong Team Americas contender, Dana Flahr (Canada) was expected to deliver but instead fell attempting a 360 off a 15m drop. His rival, Kaj Zackrisson, would give it his all in this high altitude event, storming to victory for the last run of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP Big Mountain.

Time restrictions today limited competition to a single round of 8 heats however, as skiers were given time to inspect the features of the 30-35-degree face. Results from today's single round will stand as the Big Mountain results and will now be carried-over to the Backcountry Slopestyle event.

Backcountry Slopestyle Yet To Come
Legendary features shaper David Ny has been hard at work sculpting the Backcountry Slopestyle course for the final day of competition at the SWATCH SKIERS CUP is scheduled for Friday, Sept 9. Team Americas, bristling with high-powered freestylers, must now step up to the challenge presented today by Team Europe. Which team has what it takes to hold aloft the SWATCH SKIERS CUP?