Snowboard Photography From 2014 Australian Slopestyle Tour

Stylewars 2014 - Falls Creek

A few weeks ago the director of The Australian Slopestyle Tour called me up asking if I could help out with some media services for both The Mile High by Carlton Dry at Perisher and Stylewars at Falls Creek. He had me at hello …. beer!

It was great being back in the epicentre of the snow scene, with the best snowboarders and skiers in the world congregating on Jindabyne for their off-season, and our winter. Charles Beckinsale, had helped fashion an epic and inventive slopestyle course in Perisher’s Front Valley, and with all the big dawgs in town, the level of snowboarding (and skiing) was way beyond what has ever been witnessed in this land. I was primarily employed by Rich Hegarty to help write the press releases and add to social media, but of course I couldn’t be surrounded by all this snow-shredding awesomeness without giving my new-ish Canon EOS 1D Mk IV a work out.

Perisher’s slopestyle course is always a bit tricky to shoot, and I certainly took my best photos at the ol’ stomping ground of Falls Creek’s Ruined Castle terrain park during Stylewars. But it was a nice change to be able to act as a second shooter, alongside ANZ Snowboarding Magazine’s Alex Roberts, in order to cover all the action across the park. And it was a pleasant surprise to see The World Snowboard Tour use my shot of winner Kyle Mack for their news article.

A great two weeks filled with fun and friends … and quite a bit of that free Carlton Dry. It was so good to be back!

For a closer look, click on the photos to open them up in a gallery…


Air and Styling…in Munich!

I made my way up from the depths of the starkly lit Munchen U-bahn and out into the dark, frosty night that had enveloped of the Olympic Park, following the fluoro-yellow “Zugangs” out into the mist. Somewhere up above a series of red lights flash in the misty sky like some alien spaceship descended like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A deep, dank fog has descended on the city, and the solitary walk through the deserted parklands makes me feel like I could be the last person left on earth.

As I keep trudging, somewhere up ahead I can see some lights on the horizon. As I get closer, I really know that those two underground trains really were just a portal to an alien land, because up ahead Ridley Scott’s alien spacecraft emerges from the earth. Insect legs reach to the heavens, anchored to the earth by strong space-age cables to stop the spaceship from taking off, and laser beams claw into the night sky beckoning our alien friends to descend to Earth. There is a dull hum coming from straight ahead…or is it more of a roar? As I get closer I can feel the earth tremble as the roar fills the air.

A sign says Nike 6.0 Air & Style as I make my way through the bowels of the spacehip and out into the arena, and I am hit with a wall of noise: thumping music mixed with 16,000 screams. To the right a giant ramp of snow, lit up like a Star Wars X-Fighter runway, angles down towards us, and every minute or so there is some kind of spacesuit-wearing creature with board attached to his feet defying the laws of physics.

I push my way forward to get a closer look at these strange beings, who, despite their goggle-eyes, look like they could almost be short, stocky humans. But although they take the form of man, they clearly must be from another planet because no mere mortal could possibly land cab 1260 double cork mute grabs with such regularity. Even his name, Peetu Piiroinen, must be just some google-translation from his true Vulcan moniker.

And I know that the aliens have found our human weakness, trying to tempt us with absolute vision splendids in the form of Monster Girls. Those smiles they give me are just to try and lure me back to the pod ship, and no, I don’t care if your name is Holly and you kiss my cheek, I will NOT be abducted by your kind!

The action on the alien landing strip suddenly ceases, and with a scream of some harsh language a stage to the right lights up and punk music blares. Now I know for sure that I am in an alternate reality, like the limbo island in Lost, becase Sum 41 were a band that existed 10 years ago! But the thousands of night zombies seem to the enjoy the blast from the past up on the stage in front of them while I explore this alien land.

Before long the alien-men are back, whittled down to eight in number. The level of space-age trickery is mind numbing, with another of the Vulcan race, Halldor Helgason, almost stomping backside 1260 double cork japan airs, even discarding his alien goggle eyes and headware mid-trick, like a skink discards its tail. If you don’t believe in the alien action I saw, check out this video.

But the outerspace gods have decided that there can be only one winner, and as he stepped atop the dias to accept his Ring of Glory, he punched the air and his alien slit eyes shined green before all those close were doused with a sweet, sticky liquid exploding from their talons.

The show is over, and the night zombies disperse back into the dark mist of the parklands while I take the underground teleporter back to civilisation. The city is busy on a cold, dark Saturday night and as I enter the ancient arched stone gates of the old town, dark amorphous figures converge on me from the shadows, and it is not til they get closer that I see the black coats, long legs and high heels. Through the dark, narrow streets I wend, where looming towers and jagged facades crowd the misty sky above me. Evil gargoyles look down upon me, as I turn through the market stalls to find the Schrannenhalle and it’s underground secret VIP lair, where flashing lights and pulsating bodies fill the dancefloor. I throw some coins on the bar and grab a beer, and as I turn around, in the darkness I spot a couple of familiar faces and know that thankfully, I have returned to reality.

Air and Styling…in Innsbruck

Last Saturday the Billabong Air and Style was on for its sixteenth installment at the famous Bergisel Olympic ski jump site overlooking the city. With a rejig of our plans for the magazine trip through the Czech Republic, we booted down via Munich to arrive in Innsbruck on Saturday afternoon to try and cheer for our mate, Robbie Walker, who was one of the invited final 16 pro-riders.

Dane and Jeremy hadn’t been to Innsbruck before, so we did a little bit of sightseeing through the old town before dinner and making our way up to the ski jump site which was lit up on the hill like a christmas tree, music echoing across the valley. The Innsbruck Air and Style is an absolute snowboarding institution, and something I have always wanted to experience. It began in 1994, quickly becoming one of the biggest and best snowboarding competitions in the world. Crowds of up to 45,000 crazy spectators were attending the event in 1999 when six people were crushed to death in a panic of people trying to exit, and so it has only been the last couple of years (afrer some renovations) that the Air&Style is being held back at it’s original home. It is now joined as a TTR World Snowboarding Tour 6 Star event with it’s sister events in Beijing and Munich.

So I had some sort of idea what to expect, but I was not prepared for the absolute party that the night was: 15,000 crazy, neon-bright mostly-teens drinking, dancing, partying, and pashing while nightclub-loud beats blared across the amphitheatre and ol’ school punk rockers, Pennywise, belted out a killer set. Then of course, there was the snowboarding…

Ridiculous is not a strong enough word to describe the antics on show. Unfortunately Robbie was knocked-out in his first round head-to-head clash with eventual second-placegetter (and last year’s TTR Overall World Tour Champion), Peetu Piiroinen. The current level of big air snowboarding is at a level that was unfathomable just a few years ago. I think I only witnessed on swtich backside 900, with all other tricks being 1080 double corks, 1260 corks and flat spins every which-way, and Sage Kotsenburg landing the first ever cab 1440 double cork in competition!!! What.The.Fuck?!! Check out the footage here.

Little Mark McMorris, who was down at Stylewars last year, was a deserved winner however, stomping super huge and super stylish 1260 double corks (or late cork according to some) all night long. Check out this footage to see how it looked from his point of view. Insane!

I was only able to hook myself up a free grand stand ticket, so all the photos below are taken frmo amongst the heaving scrum of dancing crowd. And i’ve got to say, my four-year-old Canon EOS 1D MkIIN struggled a little with ‘noise” in the low light trying to shoot at 1600 and 3200 ISO, but I’m still pretty happy with the few shots I snapped before I put the camera down to watch the superfinal four riders without being obscured by a lens. If I was to shoot more of these events it might be worth a $5000 investment in the newer MkIV Canon. And having said that, after the Innsbruck Air and Style experience, I am changing my plans so I can head up to Munich this Saturday evening for the Nike 6.0 Air and Style final. It should be epic is this footage is anything to go by.